Daniel-Wayne Barber/Part 10

By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006
You and I can be convinced; that’s one thing. Convicted, that’s quite different. A person can be convinced that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and be lost and die in an eternal hell. But a person must be convicted by the Holy Spirit of God and once convicted, he will act out of that conviction.

Characteristics of Convictions – Part 2 (Daniel 3:19-30)

Turn with me to Daniel 3, still talking about the characteristics of conviction. We’ve seen that there’s a difference in preference and conviction. When a man is convicted, he acts on what he says he believes. If there’s no action, there’s no conviction. Conviction is something the Holy Spirit has to do within an individual’s heart. You and I can be convinced; that’s one thing. Convicted, that’s quite different. A person can be convinced that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and be lost and die in an eternal hell. But a person must be convicted by the Holy Spirit of God and once convicted, he will act out of that conviction.

And we’re seeing some convicted men in the book of Daniel. And I love it that we’re talking about men: four Jewish men. They were young boys when they were taken over into captivity in the area of Babylon, and now we see them honoring their commitment of chapter 1:8. “They decided they would not defile themselves. They would not dishonor their God.”

Well, the scene is in chapter 3. Nebuchadnezzar the pagan king of Babylon had decided to build a statue. And the word “image,” there in verse 1 it says, “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold,” the word “image” means a human form. And most likely, it was a tendency of pagan kings to make a statue as a replica of themselves. Perhaps he was a little enamored by his dream in chapter 2, and he saw that he was the head of gold, that king of Babylon, and Babylon being that nation represented in that statue. Whatever, he builds this statue 90 feet high, ten feet wide. Quite exaggerated. Most architects know that you don’t build a statue or anything, ten times as high as it is wide. But you see the distortion in this person’s mind.

And he wants everybody to bow down to this statue. So he has a party, a celebration, has a royal orchestra there, sends out invitations, and there are no RSVP’s. As a matter of fact, if you don’t show up, you lose your head. All the biggies come to this great celebration. And he says when you hear the sound of the music, bow down to this statue. Now verse 7 is an interesting verse. Verse 7 says, “Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe, and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.”

Now the plot begins to thicken. We’ve got four young men that are not about to bow to that statue. And so certain of their cohorts go to Nebuchadnezzar and they tell him about the fact that these four will not bow; they will not bow. Now, we saw the first inevitable consequence of conviction. The first characteristic; the inevitable result: When all the world is bowing down to man-made idols and you’re standing because you refuse to bow, look out; the inevitable result will always be persecution. You can write it down and keep it somewhere in the back of your mind. You cannot possibly honor God in this fallen earth, in this world of darkness without being persecuted.

Second Timothy 3, as we read the last time together, says those who seek to live godly lives shall be persecuted. Maybe in your family, maybe it’s your wife, your husband, and they’re not interested in the things of God. They’re doing it their way; they’re not going to do it God’s way. You make up your mind you’re going to do it God’s way. Conflict, immediately. Light and darkness do not fellowship well together. They can’t do it.

Matter of fact, it’s interesting that the Greek word for persecution is a word that means “to follow after.” That’s all it means: a hounding on your trail all the time. And it sometimes can mean death, it sometimes can mean pain or whatever; but it doesn’t talk about the method as much as it is something happening in your life all the time.

I don’t know if you’ve ever gone coon hunting or not. Some of you are too cultured for that. But anyway, if you go coon hunting and you go out at night and you take those old coon dogs and you love to listen to those dogs. And those dogs will talk to you, I mean, you can understand them. You can know which dog it is. You talk to a good coon hunter, buddy, and he knows the name of those dogs, knows how they sound. And they’ll start off with one kind of bark. And then they’ll get on a trail and it’ll pick up a little higher pitch. And then they’ll tree, and, boy, they go nuts. You can hear them for a mile. And if you haven’t ever experienced that, you’ve just missed part of your real life.

But every time I think of the word “persecution,” I think of that old hound dog on that coon’s trail. Now, that coon is not bothering anybody. I mean, you know, just lying up in a tree just fooling around, not bothering a soul, and all of a sudden this dog gets on its trail. It runs from this tree to that tree to this tree and that dog is right behind him sniffing and hollering and barking and he can’t get away from it. And as long as it’s dark and as long as those dogs are in the woods, they’re going to be on his trail.

And, folks, why don’t we just get used to it? You make your stand for Jesus Christ, it’s going to be on your trail; persecution is going to follow you everywhere you go or I go. It’s the inevitable result of conviction. It will always be there. When you start acting out what you say you believe, persecution is the inevitable result.

But we also saw the immovable response or resolve. There’s an immovable resolve to a person who is convicted. What is that? “I shall not be moved.” Reminds me of my son in the morning when I’m trying to get him up to go to school. I shall not be moved! That’s the immovable resolve that you see in conviction. And, you see, what happens is a person that is convicted, even when he’s persecuted, will not budge. That does not frighten him; that does not bother him. His convictions will cause him to stand up and to stand still and to stand tall. He will not bow to what the world wants him to bow to.

Well, we come then to the third thing and it begins in verse 19. Now we’ve already seen that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—somebody asked, where’s Daniel. Remember now, they’ve been appointed over Babylon. He’s in the king’s palace. Daniel’s not here right now when this is taking place. Don’t think that Daniel would not have been involved. The beautiful thing here is that these three are standing on their own faith, not Daniel’s faith. That’s what I see out of it. I’m so grateful Daniel’s not even in this chapter. Makes you think if Daniel wouldn’t have stood, they wouldn’t have stood. Hey, buddy, they’re by themselves and they’re making their stand for the Lord God in their life.

Well, verse 19, they have let Nebuchadnezzar know, “We will not bow!” So verse 19 says, “Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered.” Isn’t that amazing? Watch people’s faces, folks, you can tell where they are. I mean, you ought to see what I see up here. I know, I know, I ought to see what you see down there! You’ve got to look at me. But it’s amazing how you can watch people’s faces. The countenance.

Remember when God came to Adam. He said, “Adam, why has your countenance fallen?” Isn’t it amazing? What’s on the inside always reflects on the face. The face is just a mirror to let everybody know where you are. His facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I’m sure one of the things that made him mad was that they were under control and in control, but he was totally out of control. You see, the world that doesn’t know our God is never in control because they’re not under control. They won’t bow to Him. They’re bowing to the wrong god and they never can control.

“He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.” This was an interesting guy. Built a statue ten times as tall as it is wide, now he puts them in a fire and heats up the furnace seven times hotter than it’s ever been heated. “And he commanded certain valiant warriors,” the word means strong. He picked out the strongest warriors that he had who were in his army “to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire.”

The incredible realization of conviction

Now, the third principle enters at this point. Not only have we seen the inevitable result, persecution; not only have we seen the immovable resolve, I shall not be moved no matter what you do to me. But the third thing that I want you to see is the incredible realization of conviction.

There is something incredible, and you don’t know this unless you’re convicted and you’re acting out of these convictions. When the persecution comes, you learn something that you could never know otherwise. It’s an incredible realization. What happens? They’ve got the fire seven times as hot, and the king has got them tied up. Now why would he tie them up and throw them in the fire? What are they going to do in the fire? But he ties them up. There in verse 21 it says, “Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps, and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire.”

So we see a pretty bleak picture. I can assure if you put this on television, “Hey, if you honor God, you get thrown into a fiery furnace.” Isn’t that exciting? I can see somebody turning that channel. Get that thing off. And then some doodah comes on and says you can be healthy, wealthy and wise. “Oh good, I’ll send my money to them.” They don’t ever tell you the truth, folks. The fire is a pretty bleak picture. They’re honored God, now what? A furnace.

Alright, now watch. Verse 22, “For this reason, because the king’s command was urgent,” and that word “urgent” means that he was so emphatic that this be done now and right now, “and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.” Now, let me explain something. A lot of people don’t understand the type of furnace that they used. I didn’t either. Somebody had to help me understand it. I couldn’t understand how Nebuchadnezzar could look over into it if the men who put them into it were burned up by the heat of the fire. How could he get close enough to even see?

Somebody told me that it was like a blast furnace. Do you know what a blast furnace is? I didn’t either, so they told me. It was the kind of furnace that the air would come in down here. You could see inside the furnace, but the air would come in this way, blow the flames and all up out of the top. And usually when you put the fuel into it, you put it into the top. If you’re going to put something into it, you’d throw it down into the furnace. But when the king possibly was looking, and this is just conjecture, but if the king was possibly looking, he was looking from down here, not up there where it was so hot. And the men who came to put them into that furnace were the ones who were burned up. The king, however, could look and see and know what was going on inside the fire.

Now, what’s going on? What’s going to happen? First of all, let’s show you what’s happening outside the furnace. I love this! Verse 22, “the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.” In other words, on the outside of the furnace, the guys who were persecuting them, the guys who were putting them into the furnace, are being burned up. They’re crispy critters. That’s what’s going on the outside of the furnace.

You know, I don’t know how many times I think of this. Paul says in the book of Philippians, he says, “Don’t be worried about your adversaries.” Man, when they come at you, don’t even be terrified, which is a sign of destruction to them. Because, you see, they can’t hurt us. You say, “Well, buddy, they can kill the body.” Well, what’s that! Well, Jesus was really worried about death when He was at Lazarus’ tomb, wasn’t He? He shed a tear, that’s what the Greek word is, He shed a single tear. You mean He was no more moved than that? He was no more moved, why? Because He came to conquer death and it was nothing to Him. What He worried about was spiritual death, never physical death. Why do we worry about physical death? Is that the worst thing that can happen to us? Do you know what it does? It throws us right in the presence of Jesus. That’s really bad, isn’t it? I’m not worried about that!

So what’s happening here is that the people who are putting them in, they’re the ones being fried. Now let’s look what’s going on in the inside of the fire. Verse 23 says, “But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up.” So far they’re still alive. And verse 24 gives us an astounding reality. “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded,” I guess so when you find out what he saw, “and stood up in haste; he responded and said to his high officials, ‘Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘Certainly, O king.’” I mean, have you aged that much? We just did it. Three men, we tied them up, you saw it, we threw them into the fire.

Look at verse 25, “He answered and said [Oh! I love this part], ‘Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’” Oh, me! Built into that statement is an incredible reality. In verse 24, three men bound, falling; in verse 25, four men loose, walking, and the fourth is like, the king said—a pagan king—“like the son of the gods.” And you know exactly who that was. That was, I believe, our Lord Jesus, as clear as a bell in one of His appearances in the Old Testament where He walked with those three in the midst of the fire.

Now some of you here, you’re afraid perhaps to stand up for anything. Maybe you’re a young person and you’re afraid to stand up for Jesus at your school. You’re afraid you won’t be cool, you won’t be accepted. You don’t like the persecution. But what we’re seeing in this is that persecution does not hurt you. It’s the greatest thing in the world that can happen to you. That’s why Jesus said in the Beatitudes, “Blessed.” That word means “fully satisfied.” “Those of you who are persecuted for My name’s sake.” What does He mean? Something happens when we’re being persecuted for what we’re doing in the name of the Lord Jesus and according His will that is incredible. First of all, the fire does not hurt us. It only purifies us. It burns only the things that bind us. That’s what persecution will do every time. It does not harm us; it just simply burns off the things that bind us. What was binding? They were tied up.

Look at verse 27, it’s incredible: “And the satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.” I can travel and come back home and my wife will say to me, “You smell like a tobacco factory” or something. I don’t smoke, but just by being around where people are smoking it just seems like it gets all in your clothes and all over, the scent. It says here the scent was not even on them. They’d been in a fire that had been turned up seven times as hot and it didn’t singe a hair on their head, it didn’t touch the clothing that they were wearing, and it didn’t even leave a scent on their bodies. Incredible!

What are you trying to tell us? Friend, when we go through persecution, if it’s true persecution—now understand what I’m saying. Many, many people bring their own persecution on themselves. I’m not talking about self-inflicted persecution. A lot of people doing that—I’m talking about people that simply make a stand and honor God and have to pay a consequence as a result of it, those people, when they go through the purifying fires, will not be harmed. As a matter of fact, it will just burn off the thing that binds them.

Look with me in 1 Peter 1:7. You know, we’re talking here about the most persecuted believers in the New Testament. This is Asia Minor, the continent of Asia Minor. Nero was the emperor of Rome and he was just literally causing havoc with the Christians. He’s the worst emperor that ever lived on the face of this earth. He would take Christians and put them in oil and burn them, using them as torches while he had his orgies with his people. He would take animal skins and put them over the Christians and put them in arenas and let the lions literally devour them and charge people to come see it. That’s how deranged he was. He blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians. It was an incredible situation.

But look what Peter says to these persecuted, martyred believers in verses 6-7. He says, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Now what is he saying? Basically what he’s telling them is, “Listen, your faith is like gold; and just like gold has to be refined, so must your faith be purified.” But here’s the key. I heard a man say one day when you go through a trial, God makes you into gold. That’s wrong. That is not right. We are gold before we ever go into the fire, but the fire proves it to us and everybody else that we’re genuine, by burning off that which has been hiding the genuineness of that gold. You see, that silversmith or that goldsmith, heat up the pot of metal and it gets so hot that the impurities start coming to the top. And he takes a little ladle and he dips off all of that dross and impurities and then he looks at the metal, and when he can see his face reflecting back in that pot, he cools the fire.

And that’s all that persecution does to you and me. All it does is purify us and prove to everybody around us, and ourselves included, that we’re genuine and that our faith is strong and it will endure and it’s what it ought to be. If it doesn’t do that, then your persecution is not the right kind. But when it’s a real persecuted experience, it does nothing but purify your faith and prove to everybody you’re genuine and you truly love God and it’s God who’s doing this in your life. Isn’t that an incredible thing? Doesn’t hurt you, it just purifies. The only thing it burns off are the things that bind you.

You know one of the things that they told me in Romania back when they were under the communist domain? A pastor told me one night, “Wayne, the things which I fear the most is not what you think. It’s not the communists. The thing which I fear the most is freedom in our country.” And it caught me off guard, and I said, “What do you mean you fear freedom? He said, “Wayne, what we have seen under persecution, the purity of belief that has come as a result of persecution, it frightens me if freedom ever comes.” And you know what’s happening right now in Romania? Pornography is moving in right now like you wouldn’t believe. The AIDS epidemic now is going to spread; they say it’s already up 80%. The Mormons have moved in, the cults have moved in, and these poor people don’t know the difference. And now they’re all susceptible to all these different areas and Jesus no longer, I’m afraid, in some of their lives, will be enough. And that’s the peril of what we call freedom.

Friend, persecution is what purifies a believer’s life. You know, if you know anything about stalking quails, you put quail on your land and don’t hunt it, or there are not predators there to give it any kind of conflict, those quail will die out. I understand this from people that do those kinds of things. But the more they’re hunted, or the more they’re persecuted for whatever, or chased after, the more they reproduce and the more plentiful they become on the property. It’s almost that way with bullies. The less persecution, the less purity you have in people’s faith. I really wonder if we don’t need in American a real good dose of persecution. And I tell you what, folks, if it ever comes, and I really believe that it’s going to get worse before the Lord comes back, and when it comes remember this: we’ll find out who’s real, who has been coming to church every Sunday. You’ll find out quickly where the chaff is, because it’s going to be separated and you’ll find out who the real wheat is. We’ll find out what the sincerity and the genuineness of people is all about when persecution comes.

You find it out in the youth group when people go away to school. It’s wonderful at camp, it’s wonderful at a retreat, but when you go to school you find out who’s real and who’s a fake. You find it in the adult world when you have a men’s retreat and then everybody goes to work on Monday, you find out who is real and who is not. Because when the persecution comes, it purifies the believer and all it does is burn off the things that bind you. Others will run away because they don’t want that persecution.

But something else that persecution does, and that’s an incredible realization. You only know it when you’re being persecuted. It says “I saw three men bound falling;… I see four men loose walking.” It intensifies our walk with Jesus Christ. Do you realize that? You never know Jesus like you know Him when all hell is breaking loose because you’re standing up for what He says and you’re standing up for your convictions. That’s when you know Him like never, never before.

I can remember in the pastorate in another church, I was going through a maturing process in my own life. And so many times when I talk about these times, it makes them sound a whole lot worse that they really were. A lot of that was just the fact that I didn’t know how to handle it. But I can remember some very difficult times, a lot of persecution. By the way, do you know where most of your persecution comes from? It’s not from the world. It’s from within the walls of the church by the so-called spiritual people. Look out. That’s where you’ll catch the most of it.

And when I started, when some of these things started happening, I remember I had a little shack out back, everybody called them a little shack out back. It was a little old dump and we’d made it into a study. And rather than visiting people I just decided to pray for them and study and they didn’t like that. A lot of people still don’t. But I was in my study one day and a lot of it was flying. Buddy, when it would fly, it would fly! And I didn’t know what to do and I got into the Psalms. I love the Psalms. David is always in trouble in the Psalms, that’s why I like it. I love how he cries out to the Lord, “O Lord, they’ve dug a pit for me. Get me out of this pit!” And I love how God always speaks back to him, “Will you relax? The pit they dug for you, they will fall into themselves. And don’t worry, David. Man, you’re My property. I’ll take care of you.” Over and over again, and now I can go back through my Bible and I’ve got dates written down of certain times the Scriptures meant something to me. And I can go back and look at those dates and look at that Scripture and almost bring back to my mind the persecuted experience that we were going through at that time. And it was in those moments with my face on the floor many times weeping before the Lord, that I met Him in a way that I’d never know Him before.

It’s an incredible reality, folks, and you don’t know it, you’ve missed it if you’re not convicted, if you’re not standing for what God tells you in your life. And don’t point your finger at somebody else because they don’t have your conviction. That’s not what I’m talking about. Some people take a message like this and use it to beat the whole Christian world over the head. I’m talking about you, in your conviction. Quit looking for other Christians to rally behind you. You understand something: you can stand alone and God is big enough to stand behind you. You’re going to meet Him like you’ve never know Him before in the fires of persecution. That’s what I’m talking about. And if you hadn’t stood up, friend, it’s all a game anyway.

Why do we even bother on Sundays and Wednesdays? Good grief, we could be doing a whole lot better things. It’s a pretty day, why not play golf if we’re not serious with what we’re dealing with? But, buddy, when you make a stand, it’s going to cost you. You’re going to find out something about God that you never knew before. He walks with you in the midst of your fire. And you’ll know Him like you never knew Him before.

You know what the contrast of that is? The man who says, “God, don’t call me, I’ll call You. I’m busy right now; I’ve got to be cool. Man, I’ve got time. When I get old and sick I’ll call you. Don’t worry! Don’t worry!” You know what the contrast is: Proverbs 5:22. “A man is bound by the chord of his own sin.” Do you realize that? You know what frees me? Conviction and my response to that conviction. What binds me is saying, “God, Your Word can’t meet my needs. It’s archaic, it’s not for today.” You just bound yourself, friend, and you’ve cheated yourself out of the glorious experience you could have ever had of knowing Him like you’ve never known Him before in the fires of persecution.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for My Name sake.” Completely, totally, wholly, satisfied are those who will stand for something, My Word, and be persecuted for it. The inevitable result: persecution. The immovable resolve: I shall not be moved. The incredible realization: You know Him like you’ve never known Him before. And the only thing that gets burned are the things that were binding you anyway. You didn’t need them.

The invincible reward of conviction

The final thing: The invincible reward. Don’t you like my alliteration? I can’t do that very often, so you better write these dates down. I’m not smart enough! Look in verse 26, “Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, come out, you servants of the Most High God.’” Well, look here! Let me show you something. Remember back in verse 15 he says in the last part of the verse, “And what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” And God said, “Oh, a contest. I love contests.” And Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said, “Lord, We wish you didn’t love them so much, because we’re always the ones in the middle of it.”

And here he is. He said, “You servants of the Most High God.” Why did he say that? Because he knew good and well his gods couldn’t have done it. Verse 28, “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said [Now watch this], ‘Blessed be the God’—and the word “blessed” means “say good things about Him” —‘of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.’”

Now watch what he does. He does the most incredible thing in verse 29: “Therefore, I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of [listen to what he’s saying now!] Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego [now watch this] shall be torn limb from limb [you think he wouldn’t have done it?] and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”

Doesn’t say he became a believer, does it? But, buddy, he was filled with respect, not so much for what he saw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego do, oh no, what he saw God do in their behalf. That’s what excited him. Not what the believers had done; what God had done in response to their belief. Can you imagine if the President came on the CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS networks this Monday and said, “I want to make a declaration to all the United States of America. I don’t care what Congress says.” Oh, do it, do it! And he came out and said, “Listen, if there’s any person who makes a detrimental statement about the God of the Christians of this nation, about the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, the God-man, about His Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, I will tear you limb from limb and we will render your houses a rubbish heap in this nation today.”

You say, “Oh, that’s kind of dumb isn’t it?” Yes. You know why? Because I’m not real sure we have enough believers in our nation that have enough conviction to be what God wants them to be. That’s why it’s dumb; that’s exactly why it’s dumb. Back in the early 60’s, we’ve come so far that in the early 60’s they took prayer out of the public schools. “Oh, we don’t want to teach these little kids to pray.” You know what; the congress has already denoted that humanism is a religion. You can teach it in any public school any day you want to teach it, but you can’t bring Christianity in. No! Higher form criticism came from over in Germany and got in our seminaries. It makes the Bible a piece of literature and now you see it falling apart everywhere. When I was at seminary, I was never taught to study the Word of God. I was taught how to tear it apart and find out what was the J theory, the E theory, the P theory, the whatever. That was all I was taught. It wasn’t until I finally found some folks that preach that taught me how to study the Word of God and what an incredible difference my life has become.

Where are we, folks? I want to tell you something, and we’ve seen it in Daniel all the way through. Be careful how you hear me because I’m telling you, sometimes I’m almost afraid to make statements for the way people try to hear you. They hear you the way they want to hear you. What I’m trying to say is, if we have the kind of character that Daniel had, the kind of integrity that was so strong that he could even go to one of the king’s officials and make a request, have an audience with the king, and the king change his mind because he respected so much of the character of Daniel. That’s what I’m talking about. Make sure you get that strong. The kind of character that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had. They didn’t with arrogance tell the king, “We don’t have anything to say.” They just did it out of conviction. Brother, it’s never been the problem of the government in any country. Never. It’s been the problem of Christians. That’s the problem.

You want to know why evil abounds? Because Christians are not living in the Word of God, abiding in His Word, being obedient to His Word. And I couldn’t point a finger at anybody this morning. Could you? I’d have to point one right back here. “Not my brother, not my sister, it’s me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” How far have we moved off-center from what God really wants us to be?

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