The Cross I Bear

Title: The Cross I Bear

Bible Book: Acts 4 : 31-37

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Cross; Cross Bearing; Christian Living



In this series of messages on the Cross we have looked at The Old Rugged Cross. We have then looked at Saul of Tarsus as the violent enemy of the Cross; Paul coming to the Cross, Paul at the Cross: Paul under the Cross; and then, Paul bearing his cross before Israel, Gentiles, and before kings and other officials. Most would agree that the greatest Cross bearer in the history of the church was the Apostle to the Gentiles. No one in the history of Christianity has ever taken up his cross and followed Jesus more faithfully, successfully, or sacrificially than he.

With that in mind, let me go on to share a conviction of mine. I believe Simon Peter fulfilled the ministry to which he was called as effectively as Paul, even if he did stumble from time to time, especially with regards to fellowship with Gentile believers. In Antioch of Syria, Paul rebuked him for his hypocrisy. I believe John fulfilled the work for which the Lord called him as effectively as Paul. Paul, however, was inspired to write a great part of the New Testament. In fact, John, Luke, and Paul wrote an overwhelming part of it.

There were others, both men and women, who were not inspired to write Scripture, who were especially faithful in bearing their cross for the Lord. A number of years ago, I preached a series of sermons under the general heading,The Supporting Cast. As great as Moses was, what would he have done with Aaron and Joshua? David may have been one of the most brilliant military leaders in history, but where would he have been without Joab, his "three mighty men", or his thirty men of valor. David was the greatest of the kings, but where would he have been without Nathan the prophet?

If we think of the great prophets, our mind probably runs to the great writing prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, two of the Major Prophets. But what about the Minor Prophets like Amos and Micah? Let’s take it a step further and name the non-writing prophets, like Elijah and Elisha. Moses, at the Mount of Transfiguration, represented the Law. Who represented the Prophets? It was not Isaiah or Jeremiah, but Elijah. We see the same thing in the New Testament. Where did the disciples meet while they were waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit? It is believed that they met in the upper room in the home of the mother of John Mark. I am serious!

When Saul of Tarsus returned to Jerusalem after a three year absence during which time he was saved, called, and prepared for his call to take the message of the Cross to the Gentiles, he was not trusted by the church. In fact, he was only received after a man named Barnabas befriended him. At first, Barnabas was the leader, but in time he yielded the positions of leadership to Paul, becoming a part of the supporting cast. I believe Barnabas would have agreed with the one who penned the lines:

I have His cross upon me,

And easy ‘tis to bear.

In the burden which He carries,

I gladly take my share.


A. This Was a Dangerous Time to Take up the Cross.

1) Many of the people still remembered seeing Jesus on the Cross. There would have been many people in Jerusalem who saw Jesus on the cross and there were many more who had witnessed other crucifixions. A number of those who took up their cross and followed Jesus ended up on a cross.

2) Authorities moved quickly to try to put out the fires kindled by the Crucifixion. The Sanhedrin tried to silence Peter and John:

So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:18-20).

3) Stephen became the first martyr, Acts 7. When he was dragged before the religious leaders, he gave his testimony and was condemned to death. He was stoned and a young Saul of Tarsus watched the clothes of the ones who stoned him.

4) King Agrippa had James killed in A. D. 44. He wanted to do something to rein in this new movement. He also wanted to please the Jews. They were so pleased with the death of James that Agrippa then had Peter arrested.

B. This Was an Exciting Time to Take up the Cross.

1) They were living in the shadow of Pentecost. The coming of the Holy Spirit was manifested with phenomenal power on the Day of Pentecost. When the disciples prayed the house where they were meeting was shaken. When they prayer prison doors were miraculously opened.

2) Peter and John were preaching with great power. Peter and John were the two who received the major focus of the Lord during the third appearance after the resurrection. They continued to be leaders of the church in Jerusalem for a number of years. When Paul returned from Damascus three years after his conversion, Peter, John, and James, the half-brother of Jesus, were the pillars of the church.

3) The Power of Pentecost never diminished, Acts 2, 4. At first large numbers were added unto the church. Before long the numbers were multiplied. Luke gave progress reports from time to time and it is amazing to see what was happening in the church in the first century. Early believers were often persecuted, but the more they were persecuted the more their numbers grew. Let me stress, the power of Pentecost has never diminished.

Recently, I had the privilege of sitting in a committee meeting in Nashville and listening to some exciting news. Ken Stephens and various members of his team at Broadman and Holman shared with us news about the new Holman Chinese Bible. Trustees received a copy of John with the Mandarin Chinese on the left side and the HCSB on the right side. We cannot take that Bible into the classroom in America today but they can take it to the classroom and teach English from it in Communist China! Up until now, the Bible used in the house churches in China was 47% accurate. Imagine what the new Holman Chinese Bible will mean to the church in China.

Ken Stephens, John Thompson, Gary McCauley, and others were leaving the meeting to fly to China to meet with people who might help get the new Bible into the hands of believers in China. Now listen to this, there are now more Christians in China than Communists! Today, 5% of China are Communists and 7% are Christians. A couple of years ago, one Chinese Christian leaders was asked what we can do to help them. He said that we should stop praying for the persecution to end. It is the persecution that keeps them growing, he said. The power of Pentecost has never diminished and the arm of the Lord has never been shortened.

C. The Impact of the Gospel on Believers Was Incredible, Acts 4: 31-35.

1) When they prayed the house was shaken. Luke often reminds us of the power of God manifested in and among those early saints: "When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were allfilled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness" (Acts 4:31). The story is told of a bishop and a priest who were surveying a beautiful church in Mexico. The bishop said, "No longer do we have to say, ‘gold and silver have we none!" The priest replied, "And no longer can we say, ‘rise, take up thy bed and walk."

One element many Bible student have commented on is that when the people in the early church were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke with boldness. Peter and John preached with boldness; the saints in Jerusalem spoke with boldness; they ministered with boldness. The Holy Spirit has never been withdrawn, so where is that boldness today? Sadly, when we see that kind of boldness in our day one almost expects it to come from some fanatical extremist group.

2) A miraculous spirit of love and service swept through the church. "For there was not a needy person among them, because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed to each person as anyone had a need" (Acts 4:34-35).

D. The Outstanding Example of Selfless Service Was a Man Named Joses, Acts 4:31-35.

1) His compassion earned him a new name. "Joseph, a Levite and a Cypriot by birth, whom the apostles namedBarnabas, which is translated Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36).

2) He sold property and donated the money to buy food for widows and orphans. He "sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet" (Acts. 4:37).


A. He Demonstrated What Christian Love Means, Acts 4, 9, 11, 13.

1) He ministered to others at great cost to himself, Acts 4:36-37. As we have already seen, "He sold property and donated the money to buy food for widows and orphans. The account here says that he "sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet" (Acts. 4:37). Others sacrificed to help others but what Barnabas did set him apart as an example to the early church.

2) He befriended Paul when he returned to Jerusalem after three years in Damascus, 9:27. Other leaders in Jerusalem were suspicious of the young man who three years earlier was a key leader in the persecution of the saints.

3) He was an ambassador for Christ in Jerusalem and Antioch of Syria, Acts 11. Upon reports of great success in the work at Antioch, Barnabas was chosen to go there to help. He was not only a generous believer, he must have been well grounded in sound doctrine.

4) When he needed help in Antioch he went to Tarsus to recruit Saul. This was a decision the Lord had to put on his heart because he had not seen Saul since they put him on a boat at Caesarea and sent him back to Tarsus several years earlier. I have never heard anyone else speculate on this, but is it not possible that Saul was being used in such a mighty way around Tarsus that reports of his ministry had reached Antioch? I wouldn’t be surprised.

B. Barnabas Was a Faithful Missionary, Acts 13-15.

1) He and Paul were set aside by the Holy Spirit for a great missionary trip, Acts. 13. When they started out, it was Barnabas and Saul, but when they returned it was Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas knew when to yield to the leadership of Paul. They went first to Cypress, home of Barnabas, and then on to Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Two key converts were made during this time: Timothy, the half-Jew, and Titus, a Gentile.

2) He helped with the great doctrinal victory at the Jerusalem Conference, Acts 15; Gal. 2. This was one of the most significant conferences in the early history of the church. It was agreed at this conference that Gentiles are saved by grace, through faith, just as Jews.

3) He stood by John Mark when Paul would not give him a second chance. John Mark had turned back on the first mission trip and Paul would not give him a second chance. Barnabas and John Mark went to Cypress to serve, leaving Silas to travel with Paul. There comes a time in most of our lives when we need a compassionate Barnabas more than a drive, or even judgmental Paul. What believer is there who does not need some encouragement at some time in his or her life?


A. We Must Witness and Minister in the Name of Christ, Matt. 25:34-45.

We must serve Him where we are, when we are there, with what we have. When you stand before the Lord I seriously doubt that He will ask how big your church was, or how many attendance pins you earned. I am convinced that the keep issue He will be looking at will have to do with obedience to His commands; a willingness to take up our cross and follow Him. The hymn states it better than I ever could:

"Take up thy cross and follow Me,"

I heard my Master say;

I gave My life to ransom thee,

Surrender your all today."

He drew me closer to His side,

I sought Hiss will to know,

And in that will I now abide,

Wherever He leads I’ll go.

It may be through shadows dim,

Or o’er the stormy sea,

I take my cross and follow Him,

Wherever He leads I’ll go.

My heart, my life, my all I bring

To Christ who loves me so;

He is my Master, Lord and King,

Wherever He leads I’ll go.

Wherever He leads I’ll go,

Wherever He leads I’ll go,

I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so,

Wherever He leads I’ll go.

B. There Are People Around Us Who Need Our Ministry.

You don’t have to look very far. There are elderly people who would love a visit. There are people in nursing homes who seldom receive a visitor. Mrs. Mickey Steward has told me about some patients who spend years in the facility she runs who never had a visit from family members. Some families live far away but others simply do not care. I knew one man who would go to a nursing home once a month to pay his mother’s bill, but never walked down the hall to see his mother. I visited this gracious lady many times and some of her relatives and friends visited. But not her son. You can help. I have often visited with Alzheimer’s patients, knowing they would not remember my visit more than a few minutes. I keep going because of the joy you could see in their eyes while I was visiting with them.

C. Hurricanes in 2005 left a lot of people in need of help.

(a) The devastation in New Orleans alone defied belief.

(b) Conditions in south Mississippi are still indescribable.

(c) Rita left a path of destruction across southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.

My heart went out to the victims of those category five hurricanes. I was devastated by the news of the damage to churches, schools, universities, and to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I lived on that campus, studied in that library, worshiped in that chapel, ate in that cafeteria, and attended classes there. I love my seminary, but I could not fully identify with the losses suffered by students and faculty members and their families.

I served on the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention with Fred Luter and John Jeffries for several years. I have not talked with John but I have spoken with Fred a number of times. He and his wife Elizabeth told Becky and me they had eight feet of water in the church and possibly nine feet in their home. John’s wife Jennie had to face this situation while trying to overcome a serious illness. She and I served on the Cooperative Program sub-committee of the Executive Board together for several years. John and Jennie continue to minister to others. Fred drives back and forth to Houston to minister to some of his members.

We heard the stories and saw the pictures. We heard the angry accusations. President Bush didn’t go to New Orleans soon enough, but he was on sight following Rita too soon: didn’t he know he was in the way?!!! We also heard many of the evacuees express their appreciation. They motivated us to keep on giving, and others to keep on going to help.

Reese and DaWanna Little took a family to an apartment complex and rented an apartment for three months for a family and paid all the utilities. One family member came back and asked, "When are you going to get me a car?" They housed a number of people at their church, a local Episcopal Church, providing food and clothing while they waited for assistance. They drew the line when some of the people asked for permission to hold Islamic classes in their church. Can you imagine what that kind of request would have cost Christians in Iran!

D. To Many, Katrina and Rita Opened the Door for a Special Ministry.

The world watched as hurricane after hurricane hit Florida in 2004 and 2005. Then we were told that a category five hurricane, Katrina, would hit somewhere in the New Orleans area. In fact, the eye of Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but the southeast corner of Louisiana was hit hard and a surge swept across Lake Ponchatrain, causing levies to break, flooding the city. We watched in horror as people who had no transportation headed to the Super Dome. We read the horror stories and saw the coverage for days.

Another category five Hurricane Rita hit the southeast corner of Texas and the southwest corner of Louisiana, flooding much of the area. Some 675 churches received significant damage or were destroyed across the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. I found it interesting that we heard all the complaints about FEMA, the commendations for the Red Cross, but I did not hear the praise for the work of the Salvation Army that I thought was due this amazing Christians organization. People from the area were well aware of the help they received from Southern Baptist Disaster Units and other church groups. After Hurricane Andrew (was it 1992?), one Catholic priest said, "We haven’t heard from the governor. We haven’t heard from the pope. But the Baptists are here. I’m thinking about converting!"

Let me mention just a few things that show how effectively a lot of Christians took up their cross and followed Jesus by ministering to the victims of Katrina and Rita. Members of the Board of Trustees for LifeWay Christian Resources received a letter from President Jimmy Draper, who was informed us that he would recommend that we approve a cash gift of six million dollars for disaster relief. We approved the recommendation and then listened as Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. When Fred became pastor, the church had 65 members and 19 years later when Katrina hit, they had something like 18,000 members. Fred wept as he said, "My people need me and I don’t know where they are."

I shared a note with Ed Ethridge, Director of Missions for the North Texas Baptist Convention, from Mike Raspberry, whose Slidell, LA area church was one of the headquarters for disaster units. Ed and his association immediately sent several truckloads of supplies, a monetary gift, and a pastor to help with the work for two weeks. Later, they followed up with more supplies and Ed went down there himself to offer what help he could.

When Katrina hit, evacuees left the Golden Triangle area of Texas and headed north. Charles Roberts is pastor of the Denman Avenue Baptist Church of Lufkin, Texas and he kept me updated as wave after wave descended on their parking lot. Someone made it known to Charles that the people who could not get into their family-life center were planning to wait until Hurricane Rita got close and then they were going to break into their new sanctuary. They opened up the facility and provided food and shelter. Fema and the Red Cross did not respond to requests for help.

Alan Wieshampel and I have served together in various capacities, including the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. He is a very good friend whom the Lord has used, and is using in a remarkable way as a pastor in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He assured me that they have not had the problems the New Orleans areas has had because the people in their area have always looked after their own needs and never waited for the government. Alan had to drive a great distance back and forth to his church as they tried to clean up after the hurricane, and then do the repairs on the buildings.

Dr. David Hankins, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, has been involved with disaster relief in Louisiana from day one. With Norm Miller, Dr. Hankins has written a small book, WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN, How Southern Baptists Responded to Katrina. David included pictures of places familiar to many Louisiana pastors, including the Gentilly Baptist Church and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Listen to some of the points he covered in the little book:

It had the efficiency of a military operation: central planning and coordination, strategic deployment of troops, efficient execution of duty, rapid mobility, and ability to engage on multiple fronts. This was not the Marines. It was the forces of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, some 30,000 people who comprise the United States’ third largest disaster agency.

"As soon as landfall is imminent, we go into action," said Jim Burton, coordinator for volunteer mobilization of the North American Mission Board (NAMB). "We’ve worked for 35 years to build capacity to respond to something like this. And we celebrate the ability to meet these kinds of challenges."

In 2004, Southern Baptist volunteers responded to 193 named disasters, prepared 3.5 million meals, repaired 2,683 homes, and removed debris from 10.700 yards.

The relief efforts in 2005 were much greater than those of 2004 because of Katrina and Rita.

The American Red Cross has asked Southern Baptists to prepare 300,000 meals a day and be ready to increase capacity to half a million meals a day by the end of hte week. During a natural disaster, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army depend on NAMB to coordinate the 600-plus disaster relief unites owned by SBC churches, associations, and state conventions and staffed by Southern Baptist volunteers.

According to the North American Mission Board, that SBC agency has prepared and served more than 80 % of all meals at disaster relief sites sponsored by the Red Cross.

Southern Baptist Disaster Units had served close to 12 million meals to Katrina and Rita victims by the end of 2005. Many other denominations had also served throughout this time. Why? What motivated an Arkansas Baptist disaster unit to go to Laurel, MS two days before FEMA or the Red Cross? These people are taking up their cross and following Jesus. He said, "In so much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my children, you have done it unto Me."

E. You Do Not Have to Wait for a Disaster to Bear Your Cross.

1) If you love the Lord you will obey the Lord. If you are not obeying Him you do not love Him. If you do not love Him, you don’t really know Him.

2) If you love the Lord you will take up your cross and follow Him. This is not an option. The first time I heard someone stress that many who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior have never crowned Him as Lord, I gave it some thought. The simple truth is, Jesus does not make any distinction between offering us His salvation and demanding that we accept His Lordship. If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all. If you are saved, He is your Lord. If you are not following Him you will be called on to give an account.

3) If you take up your cross and follow Him you will witness for Him. You may have an opportunity to witness to great numbers in Brazil, to hurricane victims in south Mississippi, or you may be called to serve to a congregation of 12 in Kentucky. But taking up your cross, you will find your place to serve and witness for the Lord.

ILLUSTRATION: Jim Thomasee was an agent with one of the largest insurance companies in the world. He told a mutual friend that every time he attended a meeting a company executive would say, "This Insurance Company must have first place in your life." He listened to that for a few years and finally in one of the meetings he stood up and said, "This company is not first place in my life. Jesus Christ is first place in my life. My family holds second place in my life. This insurance ranks somewhere on down the line after that." He resigned on the spot.

A few weeks later he received a call from another agent who told him he had heard about his decision and asked, "Would you be interested in buying this company?" Jim told him he could not come up with the money. His friend said, "I think we can come up with a way. I will let you come in and take over the business and all I ask is ten percent of the profit." Jim has run that company for many years and the Lord continues to bless.

Our mutual friend was with him in a restaurant once when some men near them began cursing. He asked the pastor friend if he had a Gospel tract. He had four and Jim walked over to the table and spoke with the men. He then asked them to read the tracts he handed them, adding, "This will change your life." Jim is one man who witnesses as God provides the opportunity.

ILLUSTRATION: Shannon Baker is the author of a Baptist Press release dated April 17, 2006, in which she covers some exciting news about a group of sixteen volunteers from Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, GA that to Brazil to evangelize and teach believers witnessing methods during a March 2-14 mission trip. Baker writes:

They exalted the Savior, equipped the saints and evangelized the sinner. Then they watched as 1,200 to 1,500 Brazilians prayed to receive Christ as their Savior....

All together, in the community of about 300,000, from 1,200 to 1,500 people prayed to receive Christ.

"Not only that, but we left an army of 600 people who were just trained in sharing their faith," Easley noted, rejoicing in the fact that the newly equipped churches would follow up with the new believers.

4) If you take up your cross and follow Him you will minister for Him. The Lord may lead you to some great position, or to some great church. He may not. Dr. Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay Christian sends members of the Board of Trustees a regular newsletter. I would like to share Dr. Rainer’s newsletter with you. I think you will appreciate it:

I did not accept any invitations to preach on Easter Sunday. Instead my family and I traveled more than 250 miles one way to attend Union Band Baptist Church. The caravan included my two sons, Sam and Art, their fiances Erin and Sarah, my wife, Nellie Jo and me. My youngest son, Jess, and his girlfriend Rachel were not able to be with us.

Why would I make a round-trip journey of 500 miles to attend this church? I admit the first reason is that my oldest son, Sam, is the pastor. But there is much more to this story than familial loyalty and pride. There is simply something special about the church.

Union Band Baptist Church will be 200 years old this summer. The church is located near the small community of Howardstown, Ky., just a few miles from the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. I have no idea how many pastors the church had before Sam, and neither do the members. Sam works in the energy commodity futures world during the daytime. He is a student at Southern Seminary in Louisville on weekday evenings. But on weekends he is at Union Band. He has been there nearly a year and has yet to miss a Sunday.

You see, Sam loves the people of Union Band Baptist Church. And they love him. When he first started preaching at the church, only six were in attendance. On this Easter Sunday, 21 people celebrated the Resurrection at the church. And there was little doubt that there was an abundance of love among the "large" crowd.

I love attending Union Band when I can. I am not the president of LifeWay Christian Resources at that church. I am simply "Sam's dad," a title that is among my favorite. There is no pretense and no class citizenry. We are all just plain folks - good Christian plain folks.

Sam is patiently and lovingly teaching and preaching the Word at Union Band. He secured pew Bibles and also gave every attendee a new Bible. He typically preaches and teaches verse by verse through a book of the Bible. On this Sunday, all parental prejudice aside, he did a masterful job of preaching the Resurrection story of Luke 24. I looked at some of the faithful that Sunday. They were hanging on to every word he preached.

No, the little church is not perfect. They struggle financially. They are struggling to get an evangelistic outreach ministry going in the community.

But the church does have much to offer. There are no personal agendas. There are no conflicts that divide the church. And the people are not wealthy enough to be distracted by the material things of the world. They have a dynamic ministry of prayer. They just built a fellowship hall with their own labor and sacrificial contributions. And they welcome with a hug anyone who comes into the beautiful old church building.

Sam is asked from time to time when he might move on to a more "significant" ministry. He humbly shares that he is at Union Band until God says otherwise. And in recent months, he has seen the real possibility of a long-term bivocational ministry. In other words, he is at Union Band for the long haul if God so directs. "Dad," he shared with me recently, "I could very well be at the best church in the world. Why would I want to leave this?"

...You see, I did not merely attend a worship service on Easter Sunday. I also worshiped the Living and Resurrected Lord. And as I bade farewell and saw the church grow smaller in my rearview mirror, I prayed that I might return soon. I sensed that what I experienced at the Union Band Baptist Church will only be surpassed at the final reunion of all Christians. The little country church was indeed a foretaste of heaven. Thank you Lord for Union Band. May churches like her multiply across this land.


Jesus said very clearly: "And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it" (Matt 10:38-39).

The Cross is serious business with the Lord. There is no question about that. The question is, how serious are you about your cross? To be perfectly honest, I believe most Christians in America are more interested in themselves than in the Lord. They want a god they can use for their own personal advantage. They want a god who will make them healthy, wealthy, and wise, not a God who may demand sacrifice, courage, and perseverance. Jesus commands us to take up our cross and follow Him. You say, that’s for preachers to do, I can’t do that. Listen to one of my all time favorite poems, written by blind John Milton. By the way, this poem was one of over sixty poems and sonnets our high school English teacher assigned us one year. Not to read; to memorize! Listen to these words from John Milton:

When I consider how my light is spent,

Err half my days in this dark world and wide,

And that one talent which is death do hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve to serve with my Maker, and present

My true account, lest He returning chide;

"Doth God exact day labor, light denied?"

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, "God does not need

Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best

Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state

Is kingly: Thousands at His bidding speed,

And post over land and ocean without rest;

They also serve who only stand and wait.

I am going to ask you to pause right now and prayerfully ask the Lord what He wants you to do when you leave this service. This is a time for decisions. Joel wrote, "Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decisions, for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decisions" (Joel 3:14).

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