pastor benjamin valentin

Keep looking ahead

if you have a Bible with you I ask that

you turn with me to Genesis chapter 19

if you don't have a Bible with you worry

not we will be displaying the biblical

verses on the big screen above very

shortly my version might read slightly

different but very close to what you

will see up there on that screen but

we're going to be reading various verses

from chapter 19 of the book of Genesis

it's going to be verses 12 through 17

and then we're gonna skip to verses 24

through 26 so that's

Genesis 19 verses 12 through 17 and then

24 through 26 and the scriptural reading

reads the following way then the man

said to lot have you anyone else here

sons and law sons daughters or anyone

you have in this city bring them out of

this place for we are about to destroy

this place because the out cried against

its people has become great before the

Lord and the Lord has sent us to destroy

it so lot went out and said to his

sons-in-law who were to marry his

daughters up get out of this place for

the Lord is about to destroy this city

but he seemed to his sons-in-law to be

jesting when morning dawned the Angels

urged lot again saying get up take your

wife and your two daughters who are here

or else you will be consumed in the

punishment of

city but he lingered so the man sees

them and his wife and his two daughters

by the hand the Lord been merciful to

him and they brought him out and left

them outside the city when they had

brought them outside

they said flee for your life do not look

back or stop anywhere in the plain flee

to the hills or else you will be

consumed then verses 24 to 26 then the

Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur

and fire from the Lord out of heaven and

he overthrew those cities and all the

plain and all the inhabitants of the

cities and what grew underground the key

phrase here but Lot's wife behind him

look back and she became a pillar of

salt now before I begin there is

something I want you to tell the person

seated next to you when I give the

indication for it it is going to be this

God is not finished with you yet so keep

looking ahead I'm gonna repeat it and

then it's gonna be your turn okay it's

going to be God is not finished with you

yet so keep looking ahead now turn to

that person and tell them that

alright alright okay now Amen if you

remember nothing else from today's

sermon and I know you will remember

other stuff but if you remember nothing

else at least remember those words that

is the central message of today's sermon

and I have titled it keep looking ahead

keep looking ahead and I'm gonna begin

this way I don't know if you have

noticed that the last two times I have

preached here I have preached on stories

of the Bible the last time I preached I

spoke about the woman with the issue of

blood and we learned that the great

faith displayed by Veronica

that's what early Christians actually

called her Veronica was even more

remarkable than dat admirable than we

have imagined the time before that I

preached about naming the army general

who had contracted leprosy and was

healed by the prophet Elijah and that

Sunday we learned that there is much

about the perseverance named and

displayed in pursuing his healing that

we should admire and emulate today I am

going to speak about the story of Lot's

wife now I don't know if you see a

pattern here you can see where I'm going

probably already but basically in all

three cases I have preached on a

biblical story and this speaks to

something that has occurred in me more

recently in the last two or three years

I have become thoroughly fascinated with

the stories of the Bible and I have

spent some good time studying them

hoping to arrive at a better

understanding of their meaning in and

for our time now I must confess that a

motivation for my doing this has been

the realization that we today find

difficulty coming to a fuller and deeper

understanding of the meanings of these

biblical stories some of their nuances

are lost on us and oftentimes we may

sauron some important details as a

result I think sometimes we fail to

understand them properly and to

comprehend what they could mean for us

today and it is quite understandable

that this happens to us I think the

truth is that these are stories that

were told and written down a very long

time ago many thousands of years ago in

fact and they were told and written down

in a cultural context very different

from our own and in a different language

from our own and in a different area

even of the world so it is no wonder

then that we encounter difficulty

understanding their fuller and deeper

meaning when you stop to think about it

sometimes we have a hard enough time

understanding and relating to things

that occurred more recently closer to

our time little details of life from

just a generation ago can be lost on us

I'll give you an example recently in one

of my classes at the University where I

teach I try to make an analogy for my

students using the example of some

television shows I remember seeing and

that were popular in the 1990s so and I

heard an amen hopefully we hear a few

others of those so I made a reference to

television shows like Seinfeld friends

and Frasier for example and I thought it

was a pretty brilliant idea and

illustration I said then you outdid

yourself today but then the look on the

faces of my students told me something

else

all I saw looking back at me were blank

stares in the faces of those students

almost as of saying to me professor

Valentin I don't get that example does

not register with me well of course it

didn't you see I had

failed to take into account when

preparing that lesson plan that these

graduate students mostly between the

ages of 22 and 27 had not grown up

watching Seinfeld friends or Frasier

this is a generation that relates more

to shows maybe like Game of Thrones

madman orange is the new black The

Walking Dead and master of none for

example so my attempt at a teaching

moment using example from the 90s was

lost on them even though we were only

talking about a difference of 15-20

years here but a lot can change in 15 to

20 years apparently another example

would be talking to our teenagers about

experience with things like rotary

telephones connected to house walls

you remember those or cassette tapes

god forbid 8-track tapes I'm not talking

about that or typewriters the reaction

you might get when talking to one of

them about that is what what are you

talking about and we can continue to

give other examples about those sorts of

things and my point is that it is

sometimes hard enough to relate to the

details of life that were experienced

just 15 20 years ago right here in our

own cultural context in our own language

in our own part of the world so imagine

what it is like trying to understand the

stories of the Bible this is not easy we

think it is but it's not easy trust me

I've been trying to for many years it is

why we need to get into the habit I

think not only of reading the Bible but

reading it slowly attentively and I like

to say with the eyes ears and heart of a

curious student well here today I want

to tell

deep into the central message of the

biblical story of Lot's wife but before

I do so I want to offer three

interpretive keys that will prove

helpful in understanding this story and

I think many other stories of the Bible

so in the first place it is important to

note that biblical stories almost always

contain a moral what I mean is that they

usually contain a lesson that they are

trying to communicate they are usually

trying to make a point and we need to

try and focus on finding the moral of

the story in order to understand the

teaching it is trying to impart I say

this because sometimes we spend a lot of

time debating details and questions

about the biblical stories that miss

their point to give you an example

I googled again that now that's a verb I

understand

googled I googled the biblical story of

Lot's wife to see what people were

saying about it and I noticed that many

people were going back and forth

debating the way in which God could have

turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt

they were asking questions like could

this really have happened is this true

or false how is it possible that a woman

could be turned into a pillar of salt

and what proof exists of this well

whether you find them interesting or not

I want to emphasize that these questions

missed the point entirely

and they distract us from focusing on

the central message and teaching of the

story the biblical stories are

oftentimes parabolic narratives

expressing truths that are much more

than ordinary facts now that's a big

concept a lot to chew on so I'm going to

repeat that again the biblical stories

are oftentimes parabolic narratives

expressing truths that are much more

than ordinary

a fax so the questions I think that we

should be asking of them are what

inspired the telling of these stories

what is the moral of the story what is

it trying to say what is it teaching me

and how can I put that teaching into

practice in my life and this brings me

to the second interpretive key biblical

stories often leave a little room for

different interpretations and different

applications across time one way they do

this is by not providing all the details

we may want they also leave some things

inconclusive and the reason they do this

is because they want us to become

participants in their interpretation and

they want us to find different ways in

which we might apply their lesson and

finally a third interpretive key to hold

in mind is that some of the biblical

stories in the Old Testament especially

were national stories that were told and

retold across many generations among the

people of Israel they were originally

told and then eventually written down by

the leaders of the Israelite people and

often they were told during crucial

moments in the life of the community and

they were told and eventually written

down in the hope that their message and

teaching would spread widely and reach

widely among the masses of the people

across many different generations it was

through the telling of stories that the

leaders of the people would get their

message across we must remember that in

these times there was no Facebook no

Twitter no what app no emails no text

messaging no smartphones no radio no TV

no Boston Globe or New York Times etc

etc etc

so the way you made sure to reach the

masses with an important message and

memorable teaching was through the

telling of stories a good example of

this in our times could be found in the

stories told by grandfather's in our

families if you think about it many of

our grandfathers were or are good

storytellers in fact often when they

want to give you an advice or if they

want to teach you something or if they

want to give you what we can call in

Spanish only de gallo

they give it to you through a story

I still remember well my grandfather

from my father's side and we're in

father's day so I think this is very

appropriate he was very good at this my

parents would take me and my brother and

my sister to Puerto Rico every other

summer for a month they did this not

only to have his visit with family but

also to make sure that we remain

familiar with our culture with our

Spanish language and with our heritage I

still thank them for this till this very

day but my grandfather was very famous

for his stories and I recall that every

time my grandfather wanted to give me

some advice or reg ano or some sort of

teaching he would do so through a story

so usually would go something like this

he would say Ile de naka you've heard

that before right

hijo usually is trouble and you just

knew what was coming next and I must

admit that I used to hate it back then

yeah I hated it because I knew that this

was going to take like 30 or 40 minutes

at least probably longer than this

sermon will be so I would roll my eyes

and I would think inside of me Oh Lord

here goes an hour of my life but I

wouldn't say anything out loud oh no no

no no

No the thing was that up well or didn't

only have a gift for storytelling you

see he also had a gift for using like

aurilla

to apply a little bit of discipline if

necessary you know what that is right so

I won't need to translate you will

probably later so I would just shut up

sit next to him and listen to his advice

all wrapped up in a long story but I

will say this I remembered most of the

advice and teachings upworld offered me

because they came with a story and this

was the medium the leaders of Israel

often used to get their advice their

teachings they are Agana their admission

and admonitions across to the people and

today I want to disclose the moral of

one of their stories because I think it

has very important teachings to deliver

to us today on this June 17th of 2018

I'm referring to the story of lot and

Lot's wife which is actually part of a

larger story about the destruction of

Sodom and Gomorrah the story goes that

one day God sent three angels to deliver

a message to Abraham the message wasn't

a pleasant one it was that the structure

was going to befall the cities of sodom

and gomorrah due to the great evil and

wickedness that was prevailing in them

in our churches we have made a big deal

of the sexual transgressions that appear

in the narrative these have gotten a lot

of attention through the years but it

should be clear that this wasn't the

only kind of offense taking place in

Sodom and Gomorrah in fact if we read

Genesis 18 and 19 slowly and carefully

we will notice it the biggest violation

God held against the people in these

cities was for their in hospitality

strangers visitors migrants and

residents were being treated badly and

without respect or courtesy hello as

much as times changed

remain the same how are we treating our

migrants in biblical times and in

ancient near in the ancient Near East

the practice of hospitality was

considered one of the highest virtues

one could demonstrate we should keep in

mind at taking care of the traveler the

poor in the needy in the midst of a

hostile desert environment could mean

the difference between life and death

so hospitality was serious business and

it was something God valued highly and

expected of his people but the people of

sodom and gomorrah were famous for their

in hospitality for their cruelty for

their coldness for their crudeness and

for their lack of care and grace the

picture what should have in mind here is

of a place that was unfriendly

vulgar crime-infested lawless out of

control and dangerous because of this

there was much suffering going on in

sodom and gomorrah and this suffering

worried God it worried him to the point

that God felt it would be best if these

cities didn't exist so he sends three

angels down to Abraham to tell him that

Sodom and Gomorrah are going to be

destroyed now I imagine that this news

was unpleasant on his own but what made

it worse and even more worrisome for

Abraham was that he had beloved and

cherished family members living in one

of those cities in particular his nephew

lot who lived in Sodom with his family

now the Scriptures don't say this but I

imagine the Abraham not only interceded

for the sparing of these cities like he

did but also for the salvation of his

nephew lot and of lots family once he

realized that God was determined to

bring an end to Sodom and Gomorrah and I

believe the prayer was answered because

in chapter 19 of Genesis

we are told that two angels appear to

lot in the city of Sodom this time and

they proceeded to tell that that the

destruction that destruction was coming

to Sodom and Gomorrah and that he should

gather up his family and leave as soon

as possible

lot according to the stories spoke with

his sons and law first but out of

consideration I think for his daughters

but they refused to believe him a little

more time pass and as the time of

destruction drew near lot was still

hesitating so the two angels appeared to

lot again and urge them saying and this

is Ben's Revised Standard Version get up

dude get up dude take your wife and your

two daughters who are here and flee this

city and I find it interesting that the

scriptures say and they do say this that

because a lot continued to hesitate the

Angels took matters into their own hands

so they grabbed lot Lot's wife and their

two daughters by hand and they brought

them outside the city then they urged

lot to flee to this to the mountains but

lot requested instead to permit him and

his family to go to a nearby nearby town

called Zohar which was actually not too

far from Sodom and Gomorrah conceding

the map and here is where things get

really interesting so you can see up

there here's Sodom and gomorrah's or

would be just slightly to the south of

the two cities and this brings me to the

part of the story I want to highlight

because the key figure in my sermon and

what remains of it is Lot's wife our

biblical story goes on to say that

before they let lot and lots family go

the Angels instructed the family not to

stop anywhere and not to look back at

the destruction that was going to come

down upon Sodom and Gomorrah and the

reason God instructed the angels to tell

this to the family was because God

wanted to spare them the agony of seeing

the destruction and devastation of these

two cities

and the people inside of them God wanted

to spare them the agony have seen the

destruction and devastation of the place

they had called home for a while and

also of the neighbors and people that

they probably had known their God was

being merciful but Lot's wife disobeyed

the mandate and as they were walking

through the hills from the city she

looked back and became a pillar of salt

as a story now through the years there

has been much speculation as to why

Lot's wife decided to disobey the

ordinance of the angels and to look back

towards Sodom the truth is that the

Scriptures don't say why remember what I

said earlier that sometimes the biblical

stories don't give us all the details we

may want and they leave some things

inconclusive in order to leave some room

for interpretation the most common

interpretation that has been has been

that Lot's wife looked back at Sodom

because she had been tainted by its

sinfulness and had become so accustomed

to it that she desired it and didn't

want to leave it behind she not only

loved Sodom but also what occurred in it

and what it represented and this is

certainly possible but we cannot

discount some other possibilities I will

note that a number of rabbinic texts

from the 8th 9th and 13th centuries

focus on the story of Lot's wife the

story also appears prominently in the

writings of some of the early church

fathers like Clement of Rome in the

first century and Iranian in the second

century and these writings

open up other avenues of interpretation

that are part of our Christian tradition

for instance they point out that she may

have felt anguish for the two

sons-in-law who stayed back and were

going to be consumed in the destruction

of the city and she no doubt would have

felt bad for the suffering this would

bring to her two daughters she also

likely had friends and neighbors she

knew and hung out with who were going to

die in the destruction she also had

established a home in a routine in that

place and no matter how bad a place may

be we always develop attachment to the

places in which we live some of the

writings also mentioned that she

cherished mementos from her childhood

and adolescence mementos that she was

forced to leave behind and abruptly so

there may have been different reasons

why she looked back towards Sodom is the

point this must not have been easy for

her and I don't know if we taking time

to think about that so a lot of times we

slammed the characters in the Bible but

take a little time to have a little

compassion here but that is also most

likely the reason why the angels from

God instructed her not to look back now

whatever the reason may have been that

led her to look back I think we can

conclude that Lot's wife committed a

fatal mistake the mistake my dear

brothers and sisters was basically this

she allowed her past to define her and

because of this she closed the doors on

a new future that God desired for her

her attachment to the past did not allow

her to move forward into a new future

that God was preparing for her the force

of her past experience paralyzed her in

the present

it did not permit her to live into a new

future filled with new possibilities she

probably thought that her life was over

or that it was going to be worse than

before

she may have been worried by the

uncertainty that awaited her and her new

and her family in a new land she may

have been frightened by the thought of

having to start over again in a new

place she may have been concerned about

how God was going to provide for her and

her family in this new and unknown place

you see the past was something she knew

the future was unknown so she decided to

look back instead of continuing to look

forward in faith oh but what a fatal and

preventable mistake this was you see

what Lot's wife needed to remind herself

was that God had not finished with her

God wasn't done with her so she needed

to look ahead in faith God was not

abandoning her on those hills so she

needed to look ahead in faith God had

grabbed her in her immediate family by

the hand and spared them their lives so

she needed to do what look I had God had

provided for her and her family and

protected the wild they were living in

Sodom so she needed to look ahead in

faith God had not shown any signs of

failing her or a family so she needed to

look ahead in faith just keep looking

ahead keep looking ahead that's what she

needed to do

what Lot's wife needed to believe was

that the same God who was opening up a

safe way for her and her family to

escape destruction the same God who sent

angels to alert them of coming doom the

same God who took them by the hand and

escorted them to safety outside the city

that same God was more than capable not

only of providing for them but also for

blessing them with greater prosperity

into the future what Lot's wife needed

to do was to make room in her heart and

mind for the possibility that the life

in front of her could be better and more

important than the life behind her I'm

gonna repeat that again make sure that

you remember it what Lot's wife needed

to do was to make room in her heart and

mind for the possibility that the life

in front of her could be better and more

important than the life behind her and

that's the moral to the story my good

people the moral of the story is that we

shouldn't let the pass the fineness nor

should we let it paralyze us in the

present we should remain fluid mobile

agile and open to a future that God may

be designed for us even if or when it

looks uncertain sometimes we need to

leave that little bit of room for the

possibility that that life in front of

us

could be more important than the one

behind us the story of Lot's wife you

see is a warning to us of the dangers of

becoming stagnant inert and complacent

it is also a warning of the dangers of

letting the past and letting our

attachments carry too much weight in our

lives

in the case of Lot's wife it was an over

attachment to a place that kept her

stuck in place in her case it was an

over attachment to a place that kept her

from experience experiencing more life

into the future and this sort of thing

could be happening in our lives too over

attachment to things places and people

could sometimes be problematic

it could be limiting sometimes but in

our cases in our lives it could be other

things keeping us from experiencing

growth from experiencing development

from experiencing new life in some cases

it could be the past traumas of life

that hold us captive in place and keep

us from experiencing healing and freedom

no doubt the traumas of life leave a

lasting mark and they could be very

difficult to get over but we must try

try try to minimize their power and

their damage we must try and find ways

to look ahead and hope perhaps you can

tell yourself God is not finished with

me yet

keep looking ahead in other cases it

could be a physical condition or an

emotional condition like a depression or

an anxiety condition that afflicts us

that makes us miserable and that holds

us captive in place not allowing us to

contemplate the possibility of better

brighter days ahead when it comes to

depression I know how the billeting in

agonizing those can be usually I try not

to be personal I'm gonna do so here I

struggled with one of these myself nine

years ago and it was bad that was a very

dark moment in my life and I didn't know

if I could come out of it but after a

struggle of about a year and a half I

broke free from its chains and so can

you

whether it's an illness and injury or an

emotional condition you're struggling

with you can tell yourself this illness

this injury this condition doesn't

define me I am more than this illness I

am more than this injury I am more than

this condition and you too can remind

yourself God hasn't finished with me yet

so keep looking forward keep looking

ahead now in some cases it could be a

struggle with an addiction or a history

of substance abuse and you may try try

and try to break free only to fall back

into the addiction time and time again

and you may have experienced freedom

from the bondage of substance abuse for

a while not only to relapse more

recently and you may be feeling helpless

and you may be feeling like you are

turning into a pillar of salt being

consumed in place to you I say nothing

is impossible while you are alive there

is always a possibility of moving ahead

of moving from one place to another of

moving from a place of captivity

confinement and constrained to a place

of freedom and liberation and you too

can remind yourself that God hasn't

finished with you yet so keep looking

ahead now this may sound odd to many of

you but sometimes our own notions of

spirituality can hold us captive and not

allow us to enjoy the fullness of life

that God desires for us sometimes we

hold ourselves to such high and

ultimately impossible standards of

morality that all we do is set ourselves

up to live lives captive to feelings of

guilt and worthlessness we think that

defying God's favor and to be saved we

have to be perfect we think that we have

to be perfectly holy 24 hours a day

seven days a week

good luck with that we think that to

find God's face

to be safe we have to be holier than the

angels in heaven but here on earth and

sometimes we see everything through the

lenses of sin and everything is bad and

everything is going to hell or about to

go to hell

everything is doom and sin and tainted

by darkness and we imagine God in the

heavens with a magnifying glass ready to

pounce on us at any moment if or when we

slip and all we do with this mentality

and attitude my dear friends is that we

set ourselves up for moral and spiritual

paralysis and we deny ourselves the

opportunity to see and experience the

beauty of God's world to enjoy the

beauty of God's creation to experience

God's grace and compassion and we deny

ourselves the opportunity of rejoicing

in Jesus's declaration that he has come

so that we may have life and have it in

abundance I have come Jesus says in John

chapter 10 so that you may live life to

the fullest and let me tell you this

while we are on this subject if lot the

husband and father in our biblical story

he had needed to be morally and

spiritually perfect irreproachable and

faultless - to be saved he would not

have passed the test he would have been

doomed if you look at chapters 13 and 19

of Genesis you will discover many

questionable traits connected with lot

from his materialistic mindset so his

greed for land to his disputes with

Abraham to his hesitation moving from

sorrow to his drunken foolishness and

disgrace narrated towards the end of

chapter 19 I can go on and on and on if

you want me to lot was far from a

perfect specimen of holiness the

morality that

the point what saved lot was his trust

in God his faith in God his willingness

to make room in his life for God his

willingness to follow God and to move

where God led him to what help lot 2 was

that he had an uncle interceding for him

Abraham let's not forget that but

perfection wasn't his and neither can it

be ours so free yourself from a life of

guilt thinking you must be perfect and

holier than thou in God's eyes God

hasn't called you into a life ridden

with guilt he has called you into a life

of Grace and devotion but that is

different from a perfect life so if you

are struggling under this disappointment

of being morally and spiritually

imperfect just remind yourself that God

doesn't expect perfection from you and

neither should you and tell yourself

this God hasn't finished with me yet I'm

getting better I'm looking forward I'm

looking ahead as Billy Graham used to

always say at the end of his messages

come as you are come to God as you are

and all of your imperfections and allow

yourself the chance to experience God's

grace and salvation as it is provided to

us in and through Jesus Christ coming

towards the end now it is Father's Day

so you know I had to end with something

special for our dads well here it goes

I hope it's special

sometimes we men cede to the weird and

faulty expectations of certain cultural

customs and we prevent ourselves from

progressing in our relationships with

our spouses our children and our

families for example this notion that

man shouldn't cry this notion that men

should always be strong and not show any

sign of weakness in difficult times

what a bunch of baloney now that's not a

curse words well we can use any Church

and unfortunately this baloney can lead

to damaging effects all this leads to is

to a lack of tenderness to harshness to

repress feelings to emotional immaturity

or very emotional stunts and to

unrealistic expectations and this could

get in the way of our being able to

develop healthy sympathetic and

supportive relationships with our sons

and daughters fathers you can you can do

better than this you can be better than

this let me tell you there is nothing

more beautiful and more attractive than

a man was in touch with his tender side

I said it and my point here is that

sometimes faulty cultural norms and

expectations can stop us from developing

from evolving from growing from moving

forward with healthier relational lives

in a similar way there are cultural

stereotypes that try to suggest that

taking care of the children that

changing diapers that giving a baby its

bottle that helping around the house

that doing the laundry that helping in

the kitchen that doing these sort of

things are a woman's job well good luck

with that

you might need some of that marital

counseling

do you think you're gonna get away with

that this way of thinking about gender

roles is not only problematic it's

unjust men have historically been seen

as being providers and not nourishes but

this mentality is very limiting white

can it be both just as women can be

nourishes and providers men can be

providers and nourishes so let's get

with it fathers let's get with it these

sorts of stereotypes can stop us from

moving forward in our lives from from

progressing in our relationships and

homes so as you can see there are many

things that can turn us into a pillar of

salt there are many things that can hold

us in place and not allow us to witness

an important and possibly better

tomorrow there are many things that can

cease as and rob us of the opportunity

to live into a different future don't

let what happened to Lot's wife happened

to you don't look back don't get stuck

in place look forward look forward to

where God may be wanting to lead you so

I want to take this moment to ask you to

reflect on your life examine it examine

yourself in your situation what is

threatening to turn you into a pillar of

salt

what is threatening to hold you in place

and to not allow you to experience a

different better and possibly more

important future whatever it is you can

choose not to look back and move forward

and courage and hope and in faith you

can remind yourself that God isn't

finished with you yet and choose to look

and move forward just look ahead just

look ahead just look at just look

you can also place whatever is

threatening to turn you into a pillar of

salt in God's hands and ask him to grab

you by your hand and lead you to safety

like he did lot and his family I don't

always make an altar call and I know

that before we had something like that

but I'm going to extend one today I'm

going to ask the whole congregation to

rise at this moment but I am going to

ask those who are struggling with

something in their lives those who are

struggling with an illness or some past

trauma or an emotional condition or an

addiction or some internal turmoil anger

or hurt whatever is holding you in place

I'm going to ask those of you who wish

to push put these things in God's hands

and you want to ask God to grab you by

the hand and help you I'm gonna ask

those people to have the courage to come

forward to come to the front of this

altar and as you do so as you make your

way here from the first floor second

floor third floor wherever you may be I

want your movement here to be a symbol

of something every step you take coming

up here to this front is going to

represent a move away from the

possibility of becoming a pillar of salt

and a move towards a new future and a

new you so every step you take coming

here will be symbolic of your refusal to

look back it will be symbolic of your

refusal to be stuck in place it will be

some Baalak of your willingness to keep

moving forward and to keep looking ahead

I'm going to ask Greg

to come up and he's gonna lead us in a

prayer of deliverance but I'm also going

to ask this I'm gonna ask the associate

pastors of our church or here to also

come up at this moment

those who are here they may also be

leaders of the church I invite them to

come up and I want some of you to stand

to my left and I want some of you to

stand to my right

[Music]

and what you're going to do while Greg

leads us in prayer the rest of our

church leaders are going to simply

extend their hand out towards the people

you can extend your head out towards the

people and your extended hands will be a

symbol of the helping hands of the

angels who has scored it lot and less

family outside of the city to safety and

I ask you to put whatever is holding you

in place in God's hands and look forward

in faith

[Music]

thank you that you haven't finished with

us yet Lord God thank you Lord God what

is in Christ is a new creation the old

has gone the new has come god I thank

you that you are the God who makes all

things new Lord God you the God who

lifts us out of the miry clay and puts

our feet on a rock puts a new song in

our mouths ice on the praise to our God

I thank you that you're the God who has

a new name for us who gives us a new

spirit who gives us a new heart who

gives us a new vision for our future

Lord Jesus God you have come that we

might have life and have it abundantly

lord I thank you that what has happened

to us whether it be good bad whatever a

bringing need not define us lord god we

need not look back lord god i thank you

that we can look forward in faith Lord

God knowing God that you hold our future

Lord Jesus and God it's not just a blind

Courage's because you are there you are

ahead you are leading us by the hand

into that new place and father I pray in

Jesus name Lord God for people who have

suffered things God that feel like they

can never get free that they say I'm

just gonna be this way it's just gonna

be this way forever I just I'm just

gonna have to live with it

in Jesus name we rebuke that thought

that temptation to look back and we say

God no we are new in you Lord God we

have a new future a new hope Lord God a

new plan God that you're designing for

our lives Lord God father I thank you

God that certain people men and women

among us Lord God they feel trapped and

stuck Lord God can today say God I thank

you Father that you have a new vision a

new plan I am gonna give glory to you

and my life will be a living example of

what you can do Lord Jesus living and

breathing God I pray God that you would

come against any lie in our thought that

we're stuck where we are Lord

no father we are going forward in Jesus

name Lord God Holy Spirit breathe on us

breathe on us today Lord God Oh father I

pray Lord Jesus you'd birth in us a new

hope Lord not oh my god I'm gonna father

I thank you Lord Jesus your spirit is

freshly moving here among us Lord God I

pray in Jesus name Lord God that you

would break addictions in this moment in

Jesus name

Lord Wuan where the Spirit of the Lord

is there is freedom there is freedom in

Jesus name I speak to that addiction

addiction to substances addiction to

drugs addiction to pornography and it is

broken in the name of Jesus father I

pray for households that feels stuck

Lord God for marriages that feel like

it's never gonna get better

relationships with kids that feel like

these relationships are broken forever

in Jesus name we rebuke that thought in

Jesus name Lord God father just like a

person can be born again a relationship

can be born again a household can be

born again a marriage can be born again

a family can be born again Oh Lord God

for people feel like they've just hit

one dead end after another God that

there's no new doors are gonna open I

thank you God that that's alive from the

bed your the there is a door in heaven

and the doors you open no one can shut

you have the keys Lord God in Jesus name

new opportunities god I pray for new

courage and hope in your people father

people who are afraid of trying

something new a new job a new ministry

new something that you think oh that

couldn't be for me in Jesus name it

might be look ahead

look ahead the only failure is not

trying in Jesus name Lord God but your

people would be courageous God about the

new futures ahead of them Lord in Jesus

name father I pray for people who

struggle has been shared with emotional

struggles that are you feel like you

just can't cure it there's not a there's

there's not a medicine can cure an

emotional problem a neurosis of anxiety

or depression or whatever it is and in

Jesus name Lord God there is a medicine

your Holy Spirit can infuse our minds

and our hearts with living water Lord

God and the joy of the Lord can be our

strength and the peace of God can pass

all understanding I pray we will look

forward and not back in Jesus name

god I pray God for people who are living

under the accusations of the evil one

Lord who reminds them of things they've

done that haunt them and in Jesus name

we declare that you have cast our sins

as far as the East is from the West Lord

God you have thrown them in the sea of

forgetfulness Lord God and your grace

Lord God all things are made new your

that father on Father's Day that runs

out to meet us Lord God who puts us with

a new robe and puts a ring on our

fingers Lord God and kills the fatted

calf and celebrates and says this son of

mine was dead and is alive again was

lost and is found because we're looking

forward to coming home to you

and not back to the to the the mud where

we were before no back to Egypt no back

to Egypt Lord God there is a promised

land before us and even if we have to

fight even if we have to fight

once we get there Lord God there is no

going back to Egypt in Jesus name we are

slaves no longer the one whom the Sun

sets free is free

July 30, 2017 9AM English Message

Oh

I hope we're ready to hear God's Word I

was preaching to you various months ago

and we had all sorts of a good time with

that story of the general I who

contracted leprosy in the Old Testament

scripture and today we're going to use

another story and I want you to join me

this morning in the reading of the text

for today

it comes from if you have the Bible with

you you can look at it if not I think it

will appear up in the screen right above

me and to the side of us and I want us

to look at these verses that will be the

text for today's sermon it comes from

Matthew 9 again verses 20 to 22 and when

I read it I think you will realize that

it is a familiar story to us it reads

the following way then suddenly a woman

who had been suffering from hemorrhages

for 12 years came up behind them and

touched the fringe of his cloak for she

said to herself if I can touch his cloak

I will be made well Jesus then turned

and seeing her he said take heart a

daughter your faith has made you well

and instantly the woman was made well

amen how many can say glory to God glory

to God now before I begin my sermon as

part of it I would say I would like to

ask you

a few words after me in a loud voice

okay you ready are you ready remember

remember is going to get all sorts of

noisy in here so you better get used to

it

okay I want you to say these words aloud

repeating after me a little bit of God

can go a long way can you say it a

little bit of God can go a long way

let's do one more time that's right well

alright if you don't remember anything

else in my sermon but you remember those

words you will be in good shape

that is both the title of my sermon and

its main point so if it's all you

remember you will have done well for

yourself so here we go and I'll start

with a story of my own earlier this year

I found myself teaching a course on the

historical Jesus at the University where

I teach and as part of the course I had

students read many different kinds of

writings we read books on archaeology

that spoke about artifacts found from

the time of Jesus and the place where

Jesus lived we read ancient Jewish and

Christian texts that illuminate what

Jesus world must have been like we read

modern history books that deal with a

variety of aspects of the world in which

Jesus lived and we of course read the

New Testament Gospels we did all of this

hoping to arrive at a better picture of

the context of Jesus's life and ministry

and therefore hopefully

at a better picture of who Jesus was and

what he did now because my practice is

to read everything I assigned my

students dumped me right I assigned too

much stuff and then I end up eating too

much stuff but because I do that I read

all of these books and articles along

with them and this means that I found

myself reading the Gospels again I had

read the Gospels in their entirety

various times before of course after all

I grew up in a church that the Bible was

central for it but there is something

beautiful about reading the Scriptures

repeatedly when you do this you often

find that you tend them to discover new

things in the stories of the Bible I

don't know if it happens with you but it

happens with me or you may find that you

stumble upon new details in these

stories or you find that things you

previously knew grab your attention in a

different way

and they end up carrying new meaning and

speaking to you in fresh ways or no

that's ever happened to you but it

happened to me various times and it

happened to me this time again and

that's exactly what happened to me when

I read the story of the woman with the

issue of blood again but what caught my

attention this time are four simple

words that the Gospel of Matthew uses

when telling the story of this woman is

I can only are the four words I am

referring to and I have to admit this

morning that I not only became

fascinated with these four words

but that I even obsessed over them for a

little while my wife knows this very

well and those of you who know me very

well know that Ben has a little OCD in

him all right

I can obsess over things but basically

in this case I wondered why the gospel

writer felt compelled to include these

words in his story after all I don't

know if you notice but the story could

have been told without these four words

being included Matthew could have told

the story without these words and the

story would have made perfect sense but

instead Matthew has his woman thinking

to herself and saying to herself if I

can only touch the fringe of his cloak I

will be made well and it was the first

four words of that statement that picked

my interest in curiosity if I can only

why the importance of these four words I

thought to myself why include them when

the story could be told without them and

very easily what was the gospel writer

trying to communicate to us when he

decided to include these four simple

words in the story why why what I asked

myself and in my firt for some answers I

turned to Bible commentaries and Bible

encyclopedias and because of my old CD I

even got some of my colleagues involved

in my homework right and so I went to

someone who teaches new Testament and I

went to someone who teaches early

Christian history and I asked them can

you find these four words in the early

versions and translations of the New

Testament after a while both of them got

back to me and said sure enough they or

their equivalent do appear in the

earliest translations of the Bible and

since then I have become more convinced

therefore that these four words are

important to understanding one of the

main points of this biblical story I

want to share that point with you today

but before I do so I want first to

reconstruct the story of the woman while

sharing some details about it that may

make it even more interesting and more

memorable for you

that's my hope at least so let's give

this a try now I'm going to begin with

the observation that the story of the

woman with the issue of blood is told in

three of the four Gospels we have in our

Bible Matthew Mark and Luke tell the

story and this tells us that the early

Christian communities considered in a

significant story in the life of Jesus

and considered it a story worth

retelling so that's an important

observation I also find it very

interesting that Christians of the

second century felt that this heroic

woman of faith should not remain

nameless and so they gave her a name

they called her Veronica in time

Veronica even became a saint Saint

Veronica in the Catholic tradition now

you probably have noticed that the

biblical story does doesn't provide the

name of this woman it simply refers to

her the woman who had been suffering

from a hemorrhage problem but the woman

Maine's nameless and this is simply

because in the time of Jesus the culture

was highly patriarchal and highly sexist

and women therefore warring granted the

same honor or status as men were for

that reason you will find that their

names are not always mentioned in the

biblical stories in fact there are many

stories in which the women remain

nameless and that's the case in the

story but I love it that early

Christians felt it was a shame that this

woman of great faith had remained

nameless in the biblical text and they

felt that she should be given a name oh

I think this admirable tenacious woman

of great faith is definitely deserving

of a name and so in the spirit of

honoring this woman and in the spirit of

these early Christians I too will take

the calling her Veronica today so let me

tell you some things about Veronica get

used to that name the Gospels tell us

that Veronica had been suffering from a

debilitating hemorrhage problem for 12

years

historically scholars of the Bible have

tended to believe that the woman

suffered from an unceasing menstruation

or an ongoing menstrual cycle which

meant that she had to deal with a

problem of continual bleeding for 12

years the Gospels of Mark and Luke add

that Veronica had spent all that she had

looking for a cure probably consulting

folk healers and religious figures who

were known to have healing powers you

see at the time there was no Mass

General

there was no Boston Medical Center

nothing of that sort but they were

both healers and their war religious

feelings who figures who were known to

have healing powers but instead of

getting better she had grown worse even

though she had spent all her money

consulting these kinds of people

now this little detail about her having

spent all that she had is significant

because it tells us that Veronica may

have been a widow I don't know if you

knew that in biblical times it was

extremely rare for common women to own

property and to possess large amounts of

money and those who did often inherited

their property or money if their husband

died and left them some sort of property

or money the Gospel story doesn't

mention the name of a husband and one

possible reason why is that he may have

died the gospel story also doesn't

mention any children so it is possible

the Veronica didn't have any the picture

one gets therefore is of a woman who may

have been touched by tragedy earlier in

her life through the loss of her husband

she also doesn't appear to have children

so with regards to immediate family then

it seems that Veronica was alone in the

world and without the kind of safety net

that having a husband and children could

provide for a woman in the first century

so it is already a tough situation that

Veronica has to deal and as if that were

not enough she is touched by tragedy yet

again through a debilitating and

stigmatizing disease that would see her

lose all that she owned looking for a

cure and the illness that she came down

with

was especially cruel with grave

consequences physically and socially

physically speaking we must imagine a

woman who was anemic weak and who could

probably hardly walk because of the

constant loss of blood from her body

people who lose blood also consistently

has to deal with it with dehydration and

with fevers as their bodies react

defensively to the consistent loss of

blood at the same time we must keep in

mind that people who deal with such

blood conditions as hemophilia for

instance or hemorrhage have to deal with

the constant fear of dying at any moment

if their blood loss becomes severe

enough and this was during a time when

blood banks and getting blood

transfusions were not an option you get

the picture here right and I'm going to

continue to draw it further out on top

of this I want us to think about the

discomfort the inconvenience and the

possible embarrassment that Veronica had

to live with for 12 years Veronica's

life was most likely a constant routine

of washing and drying rags to catch and

reduce the flow of her blood it was a

constant routine most likely of washing

and drying clothes to clear them of any

stains that may have been left on them

furthermore her condition may have

omitted odor so most likely she had to

deal with the possibility of

embarrassment constantly either because

of possible staining of her clothes

or because of older emitting from her

body the point here is not an easy thing

it's a difficult situation that Veronica

finds herself in there is something else

I want us to consider it is the social

and religious isolation Veronica would

have had to deal with every single day

of her life

during those 12 long years of illness

what we have to understand here is that

because of her continued bleeding

Veronica would have been regarded in

Jewish law as ceremoniously unclean

according to Jewish law and practice in

antiquity a woman who experienced a

discharge of blood for many days and

beyond the normal time frame of a usual

menstruation could be considered impure

or unclean we can read about that if you

want in Leviticus chapter 15 verses 25

to 27 and you will see this Jewish law

there and and the other thing is that

any person who came into contact with

her would have also been considered

impure and unclean and what this means

is that because of our constant bleeding

veronica most likely lived in a

continuous state of uncleanness which

would have brought upon her social and

religious isolation her condition would

have excluded her from worship in the

Jerusalem Temple for instance it would

haven't excluded her from the village

synagogues and it would have excluded

her from most forms of community life so

veronik of life we have to imagine was a

life of isolation and loneliness poverty

Veronica

pobrecita para no stop pero Ella

positive a cambiar la cosa pronto

this was Veronica's difficult situation

and I hope that by now you know enough

about her situation enough about the

picture to be moved any time and every

time we sing that song that we sing

around here sometimes about the woman

with the issue of blood

you know we signed that song here I hope

that every time we sing that song from

here on forth you are moved to sympathy

for this woman the level of her

suffering should move us I imagine

Veronica's life as one without hugs from

friends children and parents I imagine

her life as lacking normal human contact

as the void of marital rights with its

meaningful duties and privileges I

imagine her life as full of toil because

of the need to constantly wash

everything she is pouring without income

not only because she has spent all her

money seeking a cure but also because

her condition made her unemployable and

because she was left poor and without

income it is likely that she could not

afford to eat nourishing food to

compensate for her loss of strength due

to her hemorrhage problem all of these

factors lead to this one reasonable

conclusion veronica was a lonely

isolated impoverished ill anemic

weakened woman who was probably dying by

this point and was desperate after 12

long years of struggle with this blood

disorder for poverty Veronica

but but but she wasn't without hope she

wasn't without hope and she wasn't

without hope for three simple reasons

she was a strong-willed woman of faith

who was about to have an encounter with

Jesus who is a healer of healers now as

you might imagine things are going to

start looking up forever on a canoe

servant now and that is what some

determination some faith and an

encounter with Jesus can do for you but

before we move on to the happy and

inspirational part of the sermon before

we move on to the Hollywood ending of

the story I want to highlight

Veronica's amazing tenacity and faith we

should note that Veronica could have

stayed home when Jesus was passing

through her town she had many reasons to

be discouraged and depressed she had

been sick for 12 long years she had

spent all her money looking for a cure

and was no better for it she had tried

all sorts of different things to get

better but again nothing had worked she

probably felt weak and tired all of the

time so the thought of having to fight

through the crowds to get to Jesus might

have seen all sort of all overwhelming

to her plus there was not only the

threat of embarrassment at being seen

with bloodstains on a clothing

even the threat of being stoned to death

for putting those around her at risk of

being declared impure or unclean if she

came into contact with them but the

truth is that she had no one who could

advocate for her no one who could do her

the favor of going to Jesus with a

message of supplication she was alone

and didn't have influential advocates

who could go to Jesus on her behalf to

ask either for his visit or for his

prayer from far away you may remember

that in some biblical stories jesus

prayed for people from far away and he

became cured but in this case veronica

has no one she can send to Jesus she

wasn't able to ask the Jewish elders to

go to Jesus on her behalf she wasn't a

ruler a centurion or a leader of a

synagogue who could get people to do

things for her so yes Veronica had

plenty of reasons to feel sorry for

herself and to wallow in pity and to

remain at home feeling helpless and

defeated but despite all this she had

not lost her fighting spirit she had not

lost her sense of hope she had not lost

her faith in God and that can make all

the difference in one life how many of

you can say Amen how many of you can say

Amen do you believe that all right well

let's see what it did for Ron at

Veronica and then we'll see what it can

do for you Veronica knew that if she

wanted a chance at a miracle she was

going to have to get her weakened body

to where Jesus was

she was going to have to overcome her

fear of embarrassment her fear of being

recognized her fear of possibly being

stoned to death if she was discovered

she was going to have to muster every

remaining ounce of energy in her body

and in her mind to press through the

crowd once she got to where Jesus was

and this is exactly what Veronica did

she overcame all of these inner and

outer barriers and made her way to Jesus

believing that the opportunity for a

miracle lied within her reach lied

within her reach lied within her reach

it seems to me that Veronica had heard

of the miracles of healing that Jesus

had performed before she had probably

heard that on one occasion Jesus had

commanded an evil spirit to leave a man

and that it did she probably had heard

it on another occasion Jesus had healed

Simon's mother-in-law's mother-in-law

simply by holding her hand she probably

had heard it on another occasion Jesus

had told a paralytic to take up his mat

and walk home and that not only had his

men been able to walk back home on his

own power but he was able to walk back

home having been forgiven of his sins as

well Veronica must have heard that on

another occasion Jesus had ordered the

Legion of demons in a man to leave him

and they did she may have heard that

Jesus had visited the tomb of Lazarus

and had raised him from the dead and she

may have heard that on yet another

occasion Jesus had healed a blind man by

putting some mud in his eyes and then

clearing it off so Veronica thought to

herself

why not me why not me if all of these

others could be healed by Jesus why not

me

can you say that with me why not me

that's what Veronica thought to herself

but the level of Veronica's faith is

quite amazing and admire but I want to

highlight highlighted just a little bit

further I still have some time left here

let's see what happens here because you

put the mic in the hands of a former

Pentecostal as my dominican friends

might say a thottie by tapas ah this

woman is just amazing I find it

interesting that veronica was convinced

that if she could only manage to touch

the hem of Jesus garment she would be

healed she was convinced that all she

needed to do was touch the edge of Jesus

clothing to be healed not even the whole

suit just the hem would be enough if I

can only touch his cloak I will be made

well she says herself and this brings me

to the main point I want to stress here

remember I told you that I had a main

point here it is I just wanted to make

you wait for it a little bit the reason

why the gospel writer Matthew included

the four simple words if I can only in

his story is because he wants us to know

that the most miniscule encounter

the most miniscule contact with God can

produce great results all we need is a

small encounter with God all we need is

some kind of small contact with God all

we need is a small touch by God to be

changed ever more that is the faith that

we need to have and that was Veronica's

faith that was the kind of faith she had

and look what it did for her the Gospel

story says that Veronica got up left her

home and made her way to where Jesus was

she probably thought to herself I don't

care that I've tried everything and

nothing has worked thus far I don't care

I don't care that it has been 12 years

of suffering with this disease and that

I've grown worse no matter what I've

tried I don't care I don't care that

getting to Jesus and making my way

through the crowd is going to be

challenging and risky I don't care I

don't care because I believe that this

encounter

I believe this encounter will be

different I don't care because I believe

this time things will be different I

don't care because I believe this time

it will be the very embodiment of God's

presence that I will be encountering and

because of this she thought I will be

made well admirable isn't it admirable

isn't she

and then Veronica outdid herself

convincing herself that all she needed

to do when she got to Jesus was touched

order with cloak and that the power of

God that was in and through Jesus would

enter into her by and here from the

inside out so I imagine that veronika

disguised herself in order not to be

recognized by her neighbors she probably

put on many layers of clothing to cover

herself in her condition and then she

expanded every ounce of energy remaining

remaining in the frail body to get to

Jesus and then to fight through the

crowd to get at Jesus and when she

arrived she pressed through the crowd

and then probably falling to the ground

as you see right up there she approached

Jesus reached out and touched the edge

of his cloak and she was instantly

healed as a Christian Veronica fought

the good fight of faith

she kept her focus on Jesus and

demonstrated her faith in Jesus through

her determination to touch him now I

want to emphasize that I like that

Veronica didn't allow herself to think

that she had to plan and to carry out

some elaborate grand scheme to be healed

by Jesus she didn't allow herself to

think that she needed to throw herself

at Jesus's feet and beg for his mercy

and prayer she did it allow herself to

think that she needed to scream at the

top of her lungs to get Jesus's

attention in order to ask for his prayer

she didn't allow herself to think that

she needed to persuade Jesus to come to

her house for a visit she didn't allow

herself to think that she needed to come

down from some roof I'm some sort of

wire to come face-to-face with Jay

she didn't allow herself to think that

she had to squeeze Jesus in a bear hug

to partake of his healing powers

no if I can only if I can only if I can

only can you say with me if I can only

if I can only she said if I can only

touch the border of his cloak I will be

made well and here is something to

consider and I'm coming to my conclusion

soon and Veronica had tried to

accomplish these more difficult things

she may have failed it it is possible

she may not have been able to do these

other things and she may not have

attained her healing if she had allowed

herself to think that only a grand

gesture would work she may have impeded

herself from attaining her healing but

Veronica believed that a simple touch of

Jesus's clothes would be enough to make

her well and there is a big lesson in

this for us sometimes we think that to

get God's attention that to gain God's

favor that to receive God's blessing we

need to carry out some sort of huge

project or some sort of huge agenda when

sometimes a simple bead might be enough

sometimes we think we need to pray for

long hours at a time

we need to live perfect or almost

perfect lives that we need to be like

saints or angels walking on the face of

this earth and sometimes we even put

such enormous pressure on ourselves to

try and comply with such impossible and

weighty moral ideals and expectations

that all we do is set ourselves up for

failure we set ourselves up for feelings

of guilt and resentment and we just make

ourselves miserable in the process now I

want to be clear I don't want pasta made

under to call my attention on this so I

want to make something clear here I want

to be clear that all of these strivings

all the things I have just mentioned

have their merit and their place but we

must always remember that God's grace

surpasses our merit we must always

remember that God's love and compassion

surpasses our virtue we must always

remember that God's power surpasses our

comprehension and even imagination and

we must always remember that God's

blessing surpasses our achievement we

need to learn in other words that simple

encounters with God that brief moments

with God that a little bit of God in

other words can go a long way

and that is the meaning and the reason

for these poor words in the story if I

can only if we could only believe that a

little bit of God to go a long way we

might clear ourselves to see more of God

to experience more of God and to live

more complete healthy and carefree lives

that is one of the main points or

lessons of this biblical story but there

are two more important points or

teachings that I quickly want to mention

and I highlight it will be quickly also

I say the main point of the story and of

my sermon as I have said is that the

most miniscule encounter or conflict

with God can produce great results or in

other words like my title says that a

little bit of God can go a long way but

another thing that the story of Veronica

teaches us is that we don't need to let

life's difficult circumstances the

finest we need not let our imperfections

or illnesses or physical limitations our

psychological scars or limited economic

means that find who we are and what we

can accomplish Veronica didn't allow

herself to think that her circumstances

could stop her and neither should we

and a third important lesson we can

learn from Veronica story is that no

matter how hopeless a situation may seem

we should never lose our hope we should

live life believing that God's grace

that God's healing activity and

therefore that our well-being and

miraculous fulfillment is just a touch

away

just a touch away just a touch away so

what is your life challenge what is your

malady what is your condition

what is your hemorrhage what is your

need in other words and do you know that

Jesus is mantle is there waiting for you

to touch it do you know that God's

gracious and healing presence is here

right now just waiting for you to reach

out and touch it

do you have the faith that a simple

touch of Jesus's mantle can make you

well do you have in other words

Veronica's faith remember her words if

only if only if only I want you to

repeat now with me if only one more time

if only in one last time if only I can

touch his cloak I will be made well

God's cloak is here waiting for you to

touch it God's coke is right there

waiting for you to touch it go ahead

hurry up touch it touch it if you can

only touch it you will be made well all

I want the musicians to come and join me

and as they play in the background I

want you to think of these words if you

are in some sort of need and if you

believe that a simple touch of God and

from God can do you well I invite you to

stand right there where you are you you

don't need to come down here to the

altar if you want to come you can you're

free to do so if you like but right

there where you are right now right

there where you are I believe that God's

cloak is long enough where you can reach

out and touch it I am simply asking you

to stand up in an act of faith and to

believe that all you need is to reach

out and that you will be made well and

while the musicians play lightly in this

background I am going to ask Pastor Greg

[Music]

and pastor uh Severo to come up

and to take turns making an end sources

in intercessory prayer prayer a prayer

of intercession for our people today and

we will conclude the service in this way

by way of this prayer for healing this

prayer for deliverance this prayer for

guidance this prayer for whatever you

are in need of this morning and for

God's touch and as they pray I want you

to remember these words a little bit of

God can go a long way

you