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Our Father in heaven, we pause for just another few seconds before we open up Your Word together and we pause because we need Your help. This isn’t theoretical, this is eternal, spiritual, and so we pray that You would give us ears to hear. Who knows what needed reminder we have. Perhaps someone caught in sin who needs to be plucked as a brand from the fire. Perhaps someone who needs to know again Your smile and Your forgiving grace, and so I ask that You would give me power, unction from Your Spirit to preach, and that You would give to all of Your people the ears to listen. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
We come this evening to 2 Corinthians, chapter 6. Follow along as I read 2 Corinthians, chapter 6, beginning at verse 14 through chapter 7, verse 1. Hear the Word of the Lord from 2 Corinthians, chapter 6, beginning at verse 14.
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
The Apostle Paul’s outline here is rather simple, and his outline will be our outline. In these verses, Paul gives us two commands. They form bookends to the passage, one at the beginning and one at the end, two central commands, and in between he gives reasons for command number one and reasons for command number two.
Look at the outline. Verse 14. Here’s the first command: Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, and then we have the word “for,” so he’s giving reasons why ought we to obey that command “for” and he gives several reasons, which run from verse 14 through to the middle of verse 16.
Go to the end of the passage, chapter 7, verse 1, “Since we have these promises,” now here’s the second command, “let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement.”
The first command, the reasons for the command follow. The second command, the reasons for the command come prior. That’s why he says “since we have these promises.” So what comes before in those Scripture passages which Paul quotes from are the promises that form the reasons for command number two. Command one, reasons, reasons, command two. That is our outline.
Look up at verse 14. So two commands God has for us.
Number one: Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. This command has Old Testament roots.
Deuteronomy 22: You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together.
Now that passage from Deuteronomy is one of those passages that you’ve probably heard before and maybe even have questions in your own mind. Okay, well, we don’t seem to really be bothered with those commandments, and sometimes you hear people say, “Oh, you silly evangelical Christians, your commands, your old-fashioned things about men and women or marriage or sexuality. Well, what about these other Old Testament commands? Plowing an ox with a donkey together, sowing two different kinds of seed.”
So why does Paul find some precedent for spiritual behavior in those sorts of Old Testament commands which talk about things being separate? Well, the idea was that you do not mix things that are fundamentally of a different kind.
So those examples in the life of ancient Israel were to reinforce their unique status before God, that they were a chosen nation, a royal priesthood. They were literally set apart.
So when cynics, or perhaps just honest questioners, will say, “Well, why don’t you follow these commands anymore?” which seems sort of irrelevant, well, the reason is some laws in the Old Testament prohibited what was abhorrent by nature while other laws prohibited things in order to teach Israel certain lessons about God and about Himself.
Don’t want to get too far in the weeds trying to understand the application of the Mosaic Law to our day. It’s not our covenant in the sense that it’s not a national covenant for us. It’s certainly not a covenant that we keep to earn favor with God, nor was it supposed to be for the Israelites.
But every law in the Old Testament has some bearing on the life of the Christian. So the Old Testament law may tell you to put a fence upon the outer rim of your roof. Well, I doubt that very many of us do that. But there’s a reason they did that in the ancient world, because you had flat roofs and that’s where you would go out in the cool of the evening, and so it was one way to love your neighbors that you would put this fence there so that people aren’t wandering out onto your roof and then they tumble and injured themselves or die.
So we don’t with our type of roofs and not hanging out on roofs very often, at least not in this part of town, we don’t feel obligated to obey that in the same way, and yet there is an application for us that with our own property we want to think of ways to be considerate of others.
So every Old Testament law, whether it’s directly applicable, has some lesson for us. And Paul is getting at this sort of idea. Under the law of Moses, you could not breed two different kinds of animals, you were not supposed to harness two different kinds of animals, and so Paul takes this lesson from the life of agriculture in ancient Israel and he applies it fittingly to believers and unbelievers. To put it sort of crassly, he’s saying they are two different breeds. Just as you would not yoke two different kinds of animals, this makes common sense, an ox and a donkey together, well, one is a very different sort of animal and one is bigger and one follows instructions differently, and you yoke these two types of animals, it’s not going to be a good way to plow your field because they don’t work together well. They’re not on the same page, they’re not thinking, one’s thinking very oxen thoughts and one very donkey thoughts, and they’re not going in the same direction.
And so Paul rightly takes this broader Old Testament principle and he applies it now to the life of the church, that you ought not to be unequally yoked. You picture, we don’t deal with yokes, but you’ve seen them. You know what they are. Put on two animals, whether wooden or steel or some other material. You need to be of the same mind, heading in the same direction. So the assumption is that Christians need to be careful because believers and unbelievers will often not be heading in the same direction, not be pursuing the same goals.
So what might some examples be for us? Well, marriage and dating would be one. Now if you are married already and you’re married to an unbeliever, the Bible tells you to stay married. It doesn’t say that this is grounds or reason to get a divorce. But as you are thinking about marriage, planning for marriage, certainly there is an application because what relationship in life requires more of the same mind and same heart to be moving in the same direction.
And so we see this principle at work in 1 Corinthians and Malachi and even by extension in something like Song of Solomon, that you want to have the same heart and mind.
Now when you are young, and I can say that now, I’m an old, middle-aged dad, you young kids out there, and you’re in love, and that’s wonderful, and with all of those emotions oftentimes comes not thinking as clearly, and you’re overcome and swept over and you think, “Well, we’re gonna find a way to make this work.” And it’s God’s mercy that sometimes there is a way and the other person converts and there’s a way and praise God for that.
But we ought not to presume upon His grace. Either Christian or a non-Christian, at the risk of sounding so old-fashioned, I think it’s good biblical sense, even Protestant and Catholic, or even too Protestants who have a theology that are so markedly different heading in very different directions, not on the same spiritual page. You’re yoked together and you’re supposed to be harvesting and harnessing your energies in the same direction in marriage, in dating.
I remember hearing one woman say as she was trying to give advice to other young women in particular, maybe tempted to just compromise and marry because sometimes guys don’t get their act together and take a step of risk or faith and pursue a young woman, and this woman who was married to an unbeliever and was still loving her husband, and yet she had this line which was very striking, and she was saying to young women, and it would apply to men as well: As lonely as you may feel now, let me tell you how much more lonely you can feel in a marriage when your husband is not a believer.
Now we pray that that’s not the case and some of you have stories of God’s grace in your life with just that very scenario, or you pray for friends or kids or grandkids, but those of you who still have those decisions in front of you, certainly this passage has a bearing.
It may for others of us, as we think about our work. Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t work with any non-believers or most of you would have a hard time getting a job. There’s not enough jobs at the church for all of you to work at the church, or at Joni and Friends or at Billy Graham. You work with unbelievers. But there may come a time where those you are linking arms with are so motivated by different things, so requiring of you things that are contrary to your faith, that it is an unequal partnership.
Or perhaps even on the level of friendship. Again, on one level it can be very good to have friendships with people who are not Christians. How else are we going to love our neighbors? How else are we going to share our faith? But if there are those friendships and those friend groups that are pursuing after things that are not of Christ, and leading you, a kind of animal stuck in the other half of the plow, to be pursuing things that lead you into sin, you need to find a way to free yourself from that yoke. We ought not to be unequally yoked.
Now what is the situation going on in Corinth? Because those are some applications. First of all, this was not probably about marriage advice. Well, there are a number of verbal, thematic, and grammatical connections between 2 Corinthians 6 and 1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10.
Now there in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10, Paul is talking about idolatry. We find here in chapter 6 the same contrast between God and idols, the same contrast between Christ the Lord and Belial and demons. They have many of the same words: Fellowship, partake, defile. They have the same commands: Do not be idolaters, do not eat, flee idolatry, be separate, touch no unclean thing. So conceptually and verbally we see these connections which lead us to think that 2 Corinthians 6 is also talking about idolatry.
Now what did this look like in Corinth? Well, often they would have to participate in meals where some sort of sacrifice was involved, just like in Christian households usually before you have a meal, let’s say grace, let’s say a prayer. Well, it was very common around the Roman Empire, before you might have some meal together, it might not be a prayer but it might be come perfunctory offering to some other sort of God. And it would be the easiest thing in the world, there you are, let’s just all bow our heads or let’s all offer some sacrifice or let’s all say this chant that we’re all familiar with, and let’s offer some praise or offering or sacrifice to Zeus or Aphrodite or whoever the god or goddess might be.
Often in the ancient world you would belong to these guilds, these trade unions, and there would be some sort of patron deity, for the farmers and for the bricklayers and for the carpenters, and they would all have their patron sort of deity, god or goddess, and they would be expected to offer some perfunctory worship or offering.
So Paul’s instruction is for them not to join with unconverted pagans and the religious and ritual life of the city.
Now it wasn’t too many years ago that this would have all seemed just very strange to us, just another world. Can you imagine what that was like? Where the place where you were working, you would all have to offer some sort of genuflect to the god or the reigning goddess of the day, and yet now it is not hard for many of us to imagine. You are expected to do certain things for certain agendas, whether they have to do with gender or sexuality or under a broad rubric of social justice. Of course, there’s a very good kind of biblical justice and then there’s our world’s definition of justice.
And many of you have very difficult situations, or know people in your workplace where you may increasingly be asked to participate, and it won’t be as straightforward as there’s our statue in the corner, would you go ahead and commit your act of idolatry? And yet it is becoming almost as obvious.
Now it does not mean for us that we pull out of the world. Paul says, famously in 1 Corinthians 5, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people –not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.”
So Paul is not saying “you can’t have any relationship or fellowship with idolaters,” otherwise he’d be saying “you can’t live on planet earth.” And just as soon as you pulled in and said, “Well, we’re just going to hang out with Christians,” you’d find that lo and behold there’s a lot of sinners there, too.
So he’s not telling you automatically “go quit your job, grown your own food, get off the grid, drop all your contacts.” No, we are involved in this world. What it may mean, however, is that we will in certain ways, at different times, have to be separate from relationships that have meant a lot to us, or from participating in certain events or associations, or there may be certain sorts of activities that we very much want our children to participate in, but the things that are required of us won’t allow us to.
You may feel this, perhaps, in the medical field. There’s a practice that forces you to participate in the act of abortion, or in sex change procedures. You may feel this as a college student, when everyone on your team says, “Hey, we’re all going to wear rainbow pride t-shirts to this game.” Or it may come as you work for the government and certain things are required of you, or simply in any sphere of life to receive funding from the government, which so often comes with very, very long strings attached.
In short, Paul is telling the Corinthians, “Do not participate in idolatry.”
Now idolatry is such a, it’s a spiritual-sounding word to us now, but it had very concrete ramifications in the ancient world. I think in a sermon in the past I shared with you Doug Stewart, he was one of my Old Testament professors, and has written a number of commentaries and I think this is from his Exodus commentary actually, he shares a number of reasons why idolatry was attractive in the ancient world. Just listen to some of these reasons and see if you don’t conclude, “Oh, this is pretty attractive in our world.”
Idolatry was attractive in the ancient world. It was guaranteed. Simple formula, carve out a god, god of stone or wood, do your thing, your incantation, and it works. It was selfish. Idolatry was you do this for the gods then they help you. Many, many places in corporate America, “Hey, well I don’t know what they actually believe about these things, but we just put the right virtue signal, just do the right thing, hey, it’s going to help our bottom line.”
Idolatry was easy. There were few ethical demands. The gods of the ancient world didn’t care what you did with your whole life as long as you just kept a few certain rules and you fed them and you did the things required for the sacrifice.
Idolatry was convenient. You had gods and goddesses everywhere. It was easy to follow through on your ritualistic requirements. It was normal. Everyone did this. You figured this is how people get pregnant, this is how our crops grow, this is how the nation is protected, this is how we win military victories. We participate in idolatry.
It was logical. It was unthinkable to most people in the ancient world that there would be one god. How can there be just one god? You need multiple gods because you have many areas of life. You have family life, personal life, national life. You don’t have to choose between the gods, you can have all of them. That makes sense.
Idolatry was pleasing to the senses. You could see them, you could be impressed by them.
Idolatry was indulgent. Sacrificing to the idols often involved then eating the leftover food because you put the food there and guess what? The idol doesn’t actually eat it. Nothing changes. So then you get to have a great feast of drunken revelry or debauchery.
Idolatry was often very sensual. Many of the rituals in the ancient world turned into orgies. For some it was thought if you had sex before the gods it was a way to have the gods have sex with each other and then when that happens it means it rains and there’s a harvest and your flocks multiply and people get pregnant. The whole system was marked with an eroticism.
Now doesn’t idolatry seem sort of 21st Century? Let’s see. I can be a Christian. They didn’t really care in the ancient world. You could say you were a Christian, you could say you were whatever as long as you just kept up with the idols. So I’m a Christian, that’s not a problem, but let’s see. I don’t what Christianity to cost me very much. I want it to be easy to see, easy to do. I want few ethical demands, not a lot of doctrinal boundaries. I want it to guarantee success. I want it to make me feel good, make me look good, and I don’t want it to offend those around me. And you know what? I want it to be kind of fun.
Well, you see, those are the same things that all people at all time have always wanted in their fallen nature, and we want the same things. The question then for us is even though we don’t have idols of wood or stone or silver or gold, are we succumbing to that temptation to be like everyone else?
The Corinthians were not doubting whether Jesus was Lord, they just wanted to have Jesus as Lord and all the other stuff. Can’t I do that? Can’t I have Jesus and at least think and look and live like everyone else? That’s why Paul is saying you cannot be yoked in this world. If the only difference between you and a non-Christian is that you are in the building for 90 minutes a week and they are not, that’s not enough of a difference.
We must avoid compromise with the world. Why? Now, trust me, I’m spending most of my time on that. Why? Look at the reasons: Do not be unequally yoked, verse 14, for.
Now notice Paul issues a series of contrasts to help us understand why we must not be yoked with the world.
One. We are righteous, not lawless.
Two. We are light, not darkness.
Three. We belong to Christ, not Belial. You see that there in verse 15. Sometimes Belial refers to worthless persons, it can perhaps refer to demonic spirits operating in people.
Fourth. We are believers and not unbelievers, the end of verse 15, and then verse 16 we are the temple of God, not full of idols.
So Paul draws a series of five contrasts to show why we must not be yoked with the world. Think about the nouns that are in this passage: Partnership, fellowship, accord, portion, agreement. He’s underscoring for us as Christians we are different people doing different things, belonging to a different God, believing a different truth, worshiping in a different way.
And for many, many years, centuries even, we have felt very little of that, and we don’t feel as much of it as they do in many other parts of the world, but yes, even here in Charlotte, we are feeling that more and more. You and I as Christians must be prepared to stand alone. Now, hopefully we don’t stand alone because we have the body of Christ, but it may be in your classroom, on the athletic field, in your place of work, on the college campus, maybe even with friends and family outside of here, you must be prepared to stand alone. You have to be prepared to be ridiculed, to be misunderstood, that it will not always be the case that if you just are nice enough and you work hard enough that people are going to give you the benefit of the doubt and they’re going to like you, even if they kind of disagree with some things. Those days are quickly leaving us behind.
It used to be, very broad strokes here, very broad sweep of history in America, it used to be Christianity was a net cultural plus. In other words, to be a Christian in the United States, in particular in the southeast, had its advantages. It was a good thing. You’re a Christian, that helps. People want to do business with Christians. It’s not a bad thing. It helps you. It’s some of the social grease that helps keep relationships together.
Now there were very good things about that. It encouraged Christianity. There wasn’t the same cost. The bad thing was it encouraged a lot of nominalism, hypocrisy.
And then it switches from Christianity being a net positive to Christianity being a neutral thing. That is, if you worked hard, played by the rules, and as long as you were personally tolerant and respectful of others, as long as you proved that you could do your work in the classroom or in the artist’s room or behind a computer and you proved that, then your Christian commitment would not get in the way.
And let’s be honest, I think in some parts of our world, Christianity is still a plus. I think in some parts of our world it is still that neutral, as long as I’m basically a good friend and neighbor to other people and I don’t go out of my way to poke people in the eye, they don’t mind.
But I think we all realize that what we have more and more and more so ever than in the history of this country, is that Christianity is a net negative. This is certainly the case in many fields. In most places of higher education, big business, media, arts, entertainment, government, that to be a biblical Christian, and I don’t mean just to say you like Jesus, that doesn’t offend nobody, to be a real biblical Christian is largely a net negative.
Now the good thing is it’s easier for light to shine when it’s very dark. The bad thing is it means more and more people will be tempted to bury that light under a bushel, or even worse, to join the darkness. If this is what it costs to shine the light, then I might as well just join the darkness. We have to be prepared that there is a cost and all of the pressures of the world are saying, “Would you just go ahead, privately say what you want, go to church on Sunday, say what you want. You can do all the prayers you want. Go to the Bible studies. No big deal. But when it comes to how we’re going to operate in this country, you better get with the program and you better be yoked with the rest of us.”
We must be prepared to be separate. Not itching for a fight, but ready because the fight, if isn’t already at your doorstep, it is coming. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. First command.
Second command, much more quickly. Look at verse 1 of chapter 7. “Since we have these promises,” so the promises are the reason, and we’ll come back to those, but here is the command, “let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of the Lord.”
Defilement. That’s a robust, biblical word that we probably don’t use very often. Now it’s not wrong to use nonbiblical words, we do it all the time. Trinity’s not in the Bible. So there’s nothing wrong. But sometimes it’s good to have the Bible, especially with these strong moral words, sort of reorient us, because defilement sounds like a really serious word. It has a little different feel than “brokenness” or “grown edges” or “mistakes.” There’s a defilement.
It is possible that you and I have let defilement creep into our lives? Think about what you watch as your entertainment. The sort of conversation you have. The things that make you laugh. The images you have seen in the last month on your phone, on your computer. The way in which we present ourselves in our dress to others. It may start very slowly and over time the slime overtakes us.
Last spring when COVID was setting in, we rushed to the front of the line and before it got crazy we ordered an above-ground pool in our backyard. Great decision with a bunch of kids. Just throw them in there, “watch each other.” And it takes more work than I remember. We had a pool growing up. In Michigan you don’t use them nearly so much as you can here. And it’s more work than I remember to keep that thing actually looking blue and sparkling. I buy all these things, “Just pour in one and we guarantee it will be blue and sparkling.”
Well, we have in the last several weeks, kids haven’t been in the pool, school is busy and the weather is starting to turn, and so we’re a little negligent, and at first you see some leaves on the bottom and then they turn to dirt and dust and then we saw just some greenish film around the edges and tried to shock it, but shock has been one of the things that the supply chain has messed up and you can’t find that, and suddenly it happened in about a day or two and we completely lost it. It went from, “Oh, there’s algae” to “that’s Mountain Dew” to “it’s pea soup.” It is disgusting. So we just tell the kids “don’t open your mouth.” No, they’re not in it, they’re not in it. [laughter] It has become completely defiled, and now we’re trying all sort of alchemy and magic potions to try to at least bring it back so we can winterize it before it gets, well, maybe the cold, we’ll just have to wait to kill the thing.
Little by little, and it happens in life, I can do that, that’s okay, that’s a little bit of dirt, a little bit of allowance. I can probably watch that. I can probably go there. I can probably surf that on YouTube. Okay, I can probably do that. And what happens, sometimes in a matter of days, you go from a little film around the edge to completely defiled. Putrified.
And perhaps we don’t even see it. If we can look at many Christians in the past and wonder, how could they be so blind to sins of partiality, or racism, or chattel slavery, how did they miss that? And they sinned and they missed it.
Surely those same Christians would, however, look at us and say, “Why are they so blind to the reigning sins of their own age?”
Ephesians 5: Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them, for it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
What Paul said was shameful even to say. Now we order up on Netflix and sit down and say, “Entertain me.” What once was thought unmentionable is now a matter of laughter and entertainment, and too often jokes you don’t forget, scenes that are not easily deleted from your mind, when the Lord God says “be holy as I am holy.”
1 Peter 2:11: Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul.
Have you forgotten, have I forgotten, there is a war, there’s a war against your soul. As strangers and aliens, as exiles, until we realize that this is not our home, that it’s supposed to feel strange, that you’re not always supposed to fit in, we won’t wage the war we’re supposed to.
Are you a sojourner? Are you an exile? Is your body cleansed from every defilement of lust, sensuality, idolatry? When you look at the first 9-1/2 months of this year, do you see a person when you look in the mirror who has been brought closer to the holiness of God or a person who in these first 9-1/2 months have had your thoughts increasingly marred with impurity, your leisure stained with improper sexuality, your entertainment marked by crude humor, your actions dripping with compromise, and I ask the same questions of myself. Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement.
Why? Well, look above. We have these promises. First command, and he gives several contrasts. Second command, he gives many promises. Look at them.
Promise number one: I will make My dwelling among you.
Promise number two: I will walk among you.
Promise number three: I will be Your God and they will be my people.
Doesn’t this sound, what we’ve been seeing in Genesis? These are all the promises of the covenant. I will be a father to you, verse 18, you will be my sons and daughters.
Do you see how the promise is both the premise for the command and the reward for obeying the command? Because in both instances, the premise and the reward, the promise is the same – the presence of God.
Think about it from the Old Testament. Moses took off his sandals because he was on holy ground. God was there. The camp had to be holy because the tabernacle dwelt in their midst. The temple was set apart because God dwelt there among the cherubim. The mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. In the new Jerusalem, God makes the covenant promise again and says no unclean thing can dwell there, and even now in the Church we are the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way. God is in our midst. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. This place, together, is a temple, a dwelling place for God Almighty, and so He says, “Would you keep the house clean?”
And I love the promise at the end of verse 17: “Touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you.” I will welcome you.
Now God is not saying you need to get your act together to such a degree and then you can start talking to Me again. No, oftentimes the central act, and surely the first act of purification, is always that act of repentance, and it is a pleasing thing to God when we come with broken hearts and a contrite spirit and say, “Oh, God, against you only have I sinned.”
The promise here is what Jesus promised in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:8: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
You see, that’s the premise, that’s the promise. Don’t you want to see God? Don’t you want God in your midst? Don’t you believe that to have God in your presence more than makes up for what you lost in the world? Do you see Paul’s logic here? You’re giving up something, you’re giving up some friends, you might be giving up relationships, you might be giving up your job, you might be giving up prestige, you might be giving up being thought well of by other people… But do you see what you get? You get Me. You get my presence. I’ll live among you. I’ll walk among you. I’ll be your father. I’ll live with you and I will welcome you.
Don’t you want to come home? Is there anyone here, anyone listening, you’re out in the cold. You’ve been wandering around like the prodigal. You’re eating and digging around in the pig sty. And while you’re still a long way off, the father, losing all decorum, picks up his robes and runs to you as you move to him. Don’t you want to come home? I will welcome you.
So even in this passage, which so often can be thought of as nothing but an unrelenting pounding of the will, be separate, don’t be unequally yoked, cleanse yourself, do you see how God motivates us to these central commands? He does it by reminding us not only of who we are, we’re light not darkness, we’re children of the king not some pauper, and then He reminds of who He is, that He is our great reward and He stands ready to welcome us in.
Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we give grace for Your mercy, Your mercies which are new every morning. We pray for any here who needs to be reminded of these things, You would do so for any who are wandering far from You. Be gracious to us, Lord, have mercy to save us, to spare us. And we pray that we would know Your smiling face in Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.