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2021 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Take The Lid Off A Little

Steven Furtick - Take The Lid Off A Little

Steven Furtick - Take The Lid Off A Little

First Kings, chapter 17: "Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, 'As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.' Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 'Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.'"

We talked last week about unschedulable blessings. It's a word I made up. It's a thing you can't put on your calendar, but God is going to come through for you. He's going to come through for you sometimes after you've given up. But this is an unusual way for God to provide for his servant. It's an unusual source. "So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: 'Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.' So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, 'Would you bring me a little water in a jar…'"

Just a little water. Uh-oh. Let's see if we can get that fixed. Isn't it weird? We're broadcasting to the whole world. Isn't it weird how something so little…? I mean, we're broadcasting all over the world. Isn't it weird how something so little can control something so big? He said, "Bring me a little water". How much water? A little. "'…so I may have a drink?' As she was going to get it, he called, 'And bring me, please, a piece of bread.' 'As surely as the Lord your God lives,' she replied, 'I don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.'"

Now here's the word of the Lord. "Elijah said to her, 'Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: "The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land".' She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah". "A little olive oil in a jug". Here's what the Lord sent me to tell you today: Take the Lid Off a Little. Are you ready?

Father, we stand under an open heaven thanking you for your blessings. We thank you for rain in due season. We thank you that you speak what we need when we need it and when you speak there's nothing the Enemy can do to snatch what is sown. Our hearts are good soil. We are open to your Word. We are open to the possibility that in this season you are leading us like never before into a place that you prepared for us before the world began. We give you praise for it. In Jesus' name, amen.

Take the lid off a little. That's crazy how a little thing, something so little, can affect something so big. I mean, I just told you this word is going all over the world, and one little wire… Isn't it weird? One little thing. They're going to think we worked this out ahead of time, but we didn't. Isn't it crazy? In the text we read, the Bible says it didn't rain for three years because of the word that came from Elijah's mouth. How can the word from one man's mouth control the weather? How can something so little affect something so big? It happens all the time in your life.

I mean, the littlest thing in your day can set you in a direction you don't even realize until it is so depressing. You didn't even realize something so little… That's why I have to be so very careful what the first thing I look on my phone for when I get up in the morning is, because it doesn't take much. I don't care who you follow on Instagram. They find a way into your feed. The people you unfollowed find a way back in. The algorithm will attack you. Somebody said, "The Devil is a roaring lion". So is the Instagram algorithm. It is looking for someone to devour. That's why they call it a feed. I figured this out. He's looking to eat you alive.

Something so little. It said the word from Elijah's mouth controlled the weather system. How could something so small…? How could a wet market on the other side of the world have you shut down and grounded from traveling? There has never been a better time for me to preach this message I want to preach today, because everybody has to agree in this moment, if you've never agreed before, that the littlest thing in your life or the littlest thing in someone else's life can affect you in a way… The littlest things in your life right now, if you can receive this word from the Lord today, are controlling the things (and maybe we can help make this connection through studying Elijah a little bit) you have no control over. I'll do my best to break it down as we move.

I've always read Romans 8:28 with a very specific categorization. Romans 8:28 is my favorite Bible verse because it gets me through anything. It says, "All things work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to his purpose". How could I have quoted it for so long and only seen it through the lens of good things and bad things? I always read Romans 8:28 that all things, whether good or bad, work together for the good for those who are called according to God's purpose. Now I realize that Romans 8:28 doesn't just apply to good things and bad things; it applies also to big things and little things. It doesn't just mean good things and bad things. It means the big things and the little things, and that's why you cannot despise the day of small beginnings. Everything little leads to something big.

That's how you got here. That's how everything you see got here. It started with somebody's thought, an impulse in the brain you cannot even see with the human eye. A virus has shut down the world. Show me a coronavirus. You can't. Show me the effects of it. You can't get away from it. How can something so little affect something so big? How can something that happened to you when you were 12 still be haunting you when you're 42? How can something so little control something so big? That's the lens with which I was looking at the prophet Elijah's life. I was saying, "He controlled the weather with his word". I thought about how our words control the weather, how when we speak things, when we say things, when we say them not even out loud but to ourselves, it affects the weather of our hearts.

How can a little thing like a thought lead you down a track…? I mean, it's such a little thing, but little things lead to big things. So, the prophet Elijah prophesies a drought. It's a wonderful story, and we could elaborate on it for days, but we just want to talk about this little instruction God gave him in verse 2. "Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 'Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.'" That verse kind of sounds on the surface like God will tell you everything you need to do in your life, but I want to show you something very interesting about how God spoke to Elijah. One time someone asked me, "What do you mean when you say, 'God spoke to me'"?

He asked it very innocently. He said, "I hear you preaching and say, 'God spoke to me.' I'm not sure God ever spoke to me. What do you mean when you say, 'God spoke to me'"? The challenging thing about it was he was hearing that as a voice, but I meant it as a thought. I don't experience God through my ears. I experience him through my thoughts, and then I call it "God spoke to me," but I didn't hear a voice. Here's what's interesting about how God was leading Elijah. You have to pay attention to the small things in the text, because the little things matter. He told him, "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there".

Whoa. Can we stop for a minute and talk about how ridiculous…? How is this going to work? We just read it. We just skip right past it. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. He goes down there and the birds bring him…" The birds? Get ready for God to explode your box of how you think he's going to provide for you. We have all of these limitations on ways we think God can take care of us. We have all of these limitations on ways we think God can take care of our family. We have all of these limitations on ways we think God can use us. We have all of these limitations on ways we think God can order our lives, but God said, "Get ready for me to take the lid off and start blessing you through birds. And not just any kind of birds, but I'm going to use ravens…unclean birds, dirty birds".

Have you ever had God bless you through a dirty bird? I need you to put a "dirty bird" blessing in the chat if you've ever had God use something just ridiculous. It didn't make sense. You didn't see it coming. You didn't even like it. God has used people I didn't even like to bless me before. Dirty birds. The ravens were dirty birds. God said, "I'm going to use a dirty bird to feed you by the Kerith Ravine". He does this for a while. If I could tell you the whole story, I would. Ahab needs to see God controls the rain, not Baal. He needs to know that God is in control, that God is not only in control of the big things in our lives but the small things in our lives. So, he takes Elijah to a place where he feeds him what he needs in that season.

Have you been in a season lately where God hasn't been feeding you the same way he used to feed you? The word is so relevant right now, because up until now, you had a certain way of how you thought it had to be. I had a certain way I thought church was supposed to be. I thought in order to have church you had to let people in the building, but God took the lid off of that. God is trying to take the lid off of that just to show me that church is not just going to be contained to a physical location. Now I'm setting you up. God is trying to show you the same thing in your life. You've had some people leave you because God wanted to show you that you don't need them to make it.

Watch what the Bible says. It says that every day the birds brought him bread in the morning and bread and meat in the evening and he drank from the brook, but in verse 7, it says, "Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land". Let's talk about cause and effect. The brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Why had there been no rain in the land? Because Elijah spoke, "There will be no rain in the land".

Now he is the victim of the consequence of his own obedience. It's cause and effect. Every day he goes out to get some water from the brook, there's a little bit less and a little bit less and a little bit less. You have to be wondering right about now, "When is God going to stop it from going down"? Have you been wondering that lately? Like, "When is God going to stop it from decreasing"? This is not a message for everybody. If you're living in a time of overflow, it's wonderful. I'll see you next week. I'll preach next week on living in the overflow, but this message is about the little bit. Every time he came to the brook… This didn't happen all at once. It's just a little bit less, a little bit less, a little bit less, a little bit less, until the point where one day he comes to the brook and there's nothing there and he has to move to the next miracle. So, how does God move you to your next miracle?

Let me ask you a question. It's a conversation now. Do you want God to lead you? How did God lead Elijah from the brook to the widow's house? How does God get us from where we are to where he's taking us? How does he get us from the good work he began to the good work he wants to finish? It may not be the way you think. The Bible says God led Elijah to his next assignment through a limitation. We often say things like, "Where God guides, he provides". And he does. He'll put a dirty bird to feed you by a brook. He'll show you a secret stash that nobody else in the neighborhood even knows about.

How many know I'm right about it? God will encourage you in ways that are specific to you, but just as sure as that is true, this is also true: sometimes God will lead you through what you lose. This is the more painful thing to talk about, but I think it's very important. Is God trying to lead you by limitations, and is God trying to lead you just as much by the doors he closes as the doors he opens? If the brook had kept flowing miraculously, Elijah never would have left that spot. If Elijah never would have left that spot, he never would have met that widow. If he never would have met that widow, that widow and her family would have died of starvation. If he never would have gone to Zarephath, which was right in the heart of Baal territory, he never would have gotten to Mount Carmel where he called down fire and the whole nation repented.

Isn't it crazy how a little thing can lead to a big thing? Isn't it weird how something can go all over the world but start with one little connection? Isn't it crazy how God can use something in your life that you thought was bad, but later you look back and say, "No, it wasn't a bad thing; it was just a thing that led to a thing"? It's just a thing that leads to a thing. All things work together for the good. If the brook doesn't dry up, Elijah doesn't move on. If they didn't break your heart, you wouldn't have learned the lesson you learned. If you didn't go through Goliath, you wouldn't have been ready to be a king. If you hadn't been thrown in a pit, you wouldn't have been positioned in Egypt to feed generations. "You meant it for evil, but God used it for good".

We have all of these lids or, I could call it, all of these limitations on the ways we think God can move. If it feels good we think it's God, and if it feels bad we think it's the Devil, but God is calling us to recategorize in this season of our lives. I'll prove it to you. David came to Goliath and saw him as a meal ticket. The rest of the nation saw him as an enemy. The king said, "If you kill Goliath, you'll never pay taxes again and you can marry my hot daughter. The hot one". David said, "What now? Let me do the math on this. Okay. How big is he? It doesn't matter. Watch this". Because a little thing… You look like you know the power of a little thing.

Saul said, "You're only a boy. You can't fight him. He's nine feet tall. You think somebody as little as you can kill somebody as big as him"? David said, "No, no, no. I only look little. See, the reason I look little is because I have to be hidden. I'm a secret weapon. A secret weapon can't be really big. God had to sneak me to the battle line". And how did he get there? Through bringing a lunch to his brothers. That's a little thing. What did he see when he got there? A nine-foot-tall giant. That's a big thing. Isn't it crazy how a little thing can lead to a big thing, how you coming through Moncks Corner, South Carolina, could lead me to Christ? Isn't that crazy that I went to North Greenville and met my wife because you came through Moncks Corner because you signed up for the ministry?

Obedience in a little thing. Take the lid off a little, because I found out what you call little might be the thing God leads you to what is exceedingly abundantly above or beyond what you could ask or imagine. So, he gets there. Let's look at this a little deeper. It says when he got there, he saw a widow who was working on her last meal. She was making the final arrangements for her and her son to eat. I think the reason the Lord led me to this text is because so many of us are worried about our families these days, on every level. I'm hearing it from people who have young children. I'm hearing it from people who have elderly parents. We're worried. It's hard for us right now to trust God with the things we can't control.

Some of the parents here in Charlotte are getting ready to try to figure out "How am I going to homeschool my kids another year when I barely got out of high school myself"? We're all in this thing together, in a sense. The whole nation was going through a drought. Notice Elijah was not led to somebody who was likely, and he was not led to somebody who was rich or wealthy. He was led to somebody who in the world's eyes was little. Be careful what you label little. When you label it little, it becomes a lid. Some of us have so compartmentalized how God works. Some of us have even belittled ourselves. Now, you're going to see the woman coming to Elijah, and she needs a big miracle. How many would agree that for God to provide for you in a time of famine is a big miracle? I'm just going to take it one step farther, if you don't mind being honest.

How many of you need God in a big way in this season of your life, whether it's direction or comfort or energy or any of that? I was surprised when God led me to preach on little in a pandemic. It felt obscene to preach about a little when some of us need a lot right now. The prophet came up to the woman and asked her for a little water, and as she was going to get it, he called, "And a piece of bread". That triggered her because she had so little. When you feel limited, you operate in fear. This took me a while to realize. I thought people sometimes were being selfish. Beneath what appeared as selfish behavior was really that they were scared. It's easy to mistake scared for selfish.

The woman sounds selfish on the surface, because instead of giving hospitality to the man of God, she says, "I don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil". Watch this. She says, "I don't have any bread. I only have a little bit". Notice what the prophet tells her to do. He says, "Take the little that you have, and if you'll make something out of what you have, God will make sure you have enough". This is the word of the Lord. Take the lid off a little. A little bit of oil. All right. Take the lid off a little. Because you say it's a little, but the thing about God is God likes little. He does. How did he send his Son to the earth? As a baby. You mean not as a superhero but as a baby? God likes little. I'll prove it to you.

Who does God choose to start a nation with? One man. Y'all don't believe me that God likes little. Okay. How about this? He wants to deliver the nation from Midianite oppression. Who does he come to? Gideon. Look it up in Judges, chapter 6, in the Holy Bible. In Judges, chapter 6, he comes to Gideon. And who is Gideon? The smallest in the least clan. Why? God likes little. I'll prove it to you. When Gideon got ready to fight, he had a big army. God took him from 22,000 to 10,000. Why did God do that? God likes little. Then God said something really crazy. "You still have too much. You still will take credit. If I do it with 10,000, you'll think it was you".

God had to take Gideon all the way down to 300. This message is for somebody who has been reduced. You don't have what you used to have. You don't feel strong and sure. You used to know so much. Now you don't know as much, but God likes it when you come to him with a little bit. It gives him something to fill. It gives him something to prove. It gives him something to work with. It gives him a canvas to paint on. God said, "I want to get you down to the point…" He must become greater; I must become less. Take your little. Get your little. Get your little praise and give it to God right now. Some people right now… You can't give God a big praise. Give him a little praise. Give him a little under your breath "Thank you, Jesus". Give him a little "Thank you, Jesus" with an attitude, because God likes little.

Despise not the day of small beginnings. I'll tell you what's going to happen. If you start getting grateful, if you start magnifying what God means to you, if you start giving God a little praise, watch out. It's about to snowball. Come on and try it. Some of you have not praised God all week. So right now, give him a little praise in your little apartment watching me preach on your little iPhone. God likes little. It gives him something to expand. It gives him something to grow. It gives him something to get glory for. Take the lid off a little! Just a little. Take the lid off just a little. You don't have to run around the house or anything like that. Just a little. Just take the lid off a little. Just look up a little. Just give God a little praise. Just lift your hands right here. Just lift your fingers. Lift your thumb. Lift your pinkie.

Give God a pinkie praise. I promise you God likes little. God likes when you take your little bit and take the lid off and start pouring out praises in dry places. God said, "I'm going to visit you, but you have to take the lid off a little". Will you give him a little? Will you give God a little faith? You don't have to have a great big faith. We get so caught up on big things. God doesn't need you to have such a big faith. He said, "If you have faith like a little seed…" Do you see how high my voice is? That's how little the seed is. No, no. He said, "Don't be afraid. Take the little you have…"

I'm not saying it's not little, but I'm saying take the lid off a little. Why do we belittle what God gave us? Why do we see ourselves as grasshoppers when God has given us a promised land called Canaan? Have you ever thought about how the reason the nation didn't go into Canaan was because they made themselves small? "We're too little". All right. Sit down. I'm going to tell you a story. I got in a fight with Holly yesterday. My fault. It wasn't a huge fight. We don't even fight that much. It has been a minute. But she was trying to encourage me yesterday, and I couldn't receive it. That's the bottom line. Do you want to know the bottom line?

This is what I had to go back and tell her an hour later, because the Holy Spirit… Do you know how the Holy Spirit will speak to you in that little voice? He's not really loud. Just a little voice. He told me, "Now, you know she was trying to help you, and you know the reason you really got angry is because you were really afraid". I'm going to tell you the story behind it. This will be my marriage therapy for the week. I've been writing for a few months. I've been working on a book, but I won't call it a book. I haven't called it a book. All I'll say is, "I'm writing". I've been writing and revising and writing and revising. It has been about five years since I've put a book out. The reason it has been five years since I've put a book out is because something got in my head and said, "You're not an author".

Isn't it crazy how a little thought can get in your head, and then something little, little, little, and five years later, I haven't put a book out. Turning 40 this year got me thinking. We were talking about this the other day. I felt some urgency. When we were creating songs for our last album, they just kept coming. They kept flowing, kept flowing, right until the last minute, and I decided I was going to try to write a book this year. Yesterday, I took the book through its second revision, and with my finger shaking, I put the mouse over "Send" on an email and sent it to the editor. Holly was trying to tell me "Congratulations". I didn't want to hear it, because if I acknowledge that it's a big deal, then it means it could fail. (I shouldn't be telling y'all this. Y'all really don't deserve to know all this about my marriage and all this. This is ridiculous.)

I got angry because, really, I was afraid. In the process of analyzing why I was basically telling her, "Don't try to encourage me…" She said, "Congratulations on sending your book off". I said, "It's not a book yet! It's just a document". Do you see what I'm doing? Belittle it, because the moment I call it a book, that means others are going to read it. If others read it, that means they can judge it. As long as I keep it little… It's a fear move. It's just a little oil. What she was trying to get me to do… And she was right. Do you hear that? You were right. She said, "At some point, you have to start speaking what you want to see". She said, "It's a whole chapter in your book: speak what you want to see". I'm not even doing the chapter I wrote, because if I speak it, that makes it real, but if I make it little, I can hide it.

Now do you see why you put yourself down? If you ever come out and say, "God can do this. I'm walking on the water. Say the word, Jesus, and I'll come…" But if I come, that means I can slip. This is a great word because this word is helping you to see sometimes why you talk to yourself the way you talk to yourself. "I only have a little oil". Take the lid off a little. God likes little. God likes little so much that when he wanted Naaman to be healed of leprosy, he used a little servant girl in his house to send him to the prophet. God likes little. I'm going to tell you something. If you take the lid off the little bit you have, it won't be little for long. Baby praises grow into whopping praises. I dare you to say it by faith. It won't be little long. "I see a cloud the size of a man's hand".

At first, Elijah heard the sound of rain. Right? This is 1 Kings, chapter 18. I moved on from chapter 17. I'm moving to chapter 18. He said, "I hear the sound of the abundance of rain, but I can't see it yet". Then when the servant went to look for it, he said, "I see it now, but it's little". But Elijah knows God likes little. God likes it when you're untrained. God likes it when you feel like you're the only one. God likes it when you need him. God likes it when you're not arrogant. God likes it when you humble yourself under his mighty hand. Would you take the lid off a little? Just go look again and say, "God, you know I don't have much strength right now, but you have given me some strength. God, I know I don't have every gift, but you have given me some gifts".

It's only little if you look at it next to something bigger. By the way, I found this out flying on airplanes: everything looks little if you get up above it high enough. If you get up high enough above it, everything looks little. Some of the things that look so big to you today that you don't see how you're going to overcome them, when you get the altitude, when you begin to worship God, when you begin to trust him in this moment and take the lid off, if you get up high enough… That's what worship does. That's what coming to the Word of God does. It takes the lid off. If you get up high enough, I promise you your problems are not going to look as big as they look right now. I'm speaking by the Spirit of the Lord to somebody who is about to run out. I mean, you're about to run out of ideas to save your business. You're about to run out of ways to get through to your kid. You're about to run out of patience, desire, passion. You're about to run out.

Here's the miracle. It does not say that when the woman did what Elijah told her to do she got more flour and more oil. It says that what she had didn't run out. Here's what God showed me: it will always look little, but it will never run out. As I close this message, I want to know if you are willing to take the lid off your little. Stop putting limitations on what God can do through you right now. I know it looks little. I know the little bit you have to offer seems so insignificant in the face of the challenge you're up against, but God likes little. In fact, the Scripture says the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed. What God is going to do through your life in this season is going to lead to something that will outweigh everything you've been through to get through it.

The Lord sent me here today to get your altitude up higher so you can see things like he sees them. What that woman had wasn't much, but it was enough. This is the tension we live in. It's not much, but it's still enough. If you can hold those two tensions, then you can live by truth and not by sight.

Father, your word is powerful. Your word controls the weather. Not only that, but your word commands birds to feed us in places along the way. We stand before you right now as a global community in the middle of a situation we have no frame of reference for. Not only is that true of our nations, that's true of our households. That's true of our plans. As we stand before you in this place, God, what we have seems so little in comparison to what we need, but I hear you saying, "Take the lid off". I think that means you want to exceed our expectations in this season. I want you to know, Lord, that I'm open to it.

For everybody who will come into agreement with this word, I join my faith with them that it may look little, but it'll always be enough. The miracle is not that it overflowed all at once. The miracle is that it never ran out. I speak over your life. I speak over your family. I speak over your finances. It will always be enough. I know it doesn't look like much, feel like much, and seem like much, but come on up here and get above it for a minute where we are seated in heavenly places with Jesus. God always uses little things to lead us. I'm going to stay in this moment, Father, because I feel you telling me to for somebody who has just a little bit of faith, a little bit of strength, a little bit of hope.

"I have a little bit left," the woman said. Elijah said, "All right. Take the lid off your little and watch God keep supplying". That's exactly what God did. God has been using our problems to position us for his purpose. We are not here by accident, and we are not insufficient. Thank you, Lord, for the little. As I go through my week this week, I want to see the little miracles you're doing. How am I going to sit around and wait on something big when these little miracles just keep happening all around me? Even right now, what a wonder that I could reach around the globe and speak a word that could reach somebody right in the middle of what they're going through.

Somebody right now is hearing this word in the darkest season of their life, somebody in the midst of their confusion. Somebody just needed an encouragement to keep going today, and your word controls the weather.

Thank you, Jesus. Your word controls the weather. Help us to speak and see like you speak and like you see. We might feel like Moses sometimes. "I just have a little staff in my hand. What am I against so many"? But, Lord, I believe you like little things. I really believe you like little things. I think you like it when we do the little things with excellence. I believe you are pleased with the people who are doing the little things. He who can be faithful with little will be faithful in much. We thank you for it. Right now, in this moment, God, I believe you're drawing somebody to yourself.

God, I pray for those who have felt far away from you during this season. I pray for those who have felt dislocated, and maybe even in their spirit they have felt like giving up on themselves. They still believe in you, but they don't believe in them. They feel little, belittled. The voice inside of them is telling them so much they've started to believe it. But now, God of all grace, we invite you to come into those places and fill those spaces that are empty with your glory. You can do that.

As we lift our hands in your presence today, we're taking the lid off. You can come through the ceiling. You can come through the Internet. You can come through YouTube. We're taking the lid off. You can bless us through a bird. You can bless us through a widow. You can bless us in Zarephath. You can do anything. You can do all things. The only thing you can't do is fail. So, God, we have faith to believe that the flour won't run out and the oil won't run dry until the day you send rain. God, you control the weather. We obey the word. Where you speak, we'll go. I thank you, Lord, this is a turning point for somebody. This is a turning point for someone's heart, and we worship you in this moment. We worship you for who you are. We thank you that according to your word it will be done. In Jesus' name, amen.

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