55. FINDING YOURSELF IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH
Preacher: Felix Ngunjiri Gichuri
Reading: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want/lack. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4 [KJV])
Dichotomy of Life
There exists a dichotomy of God’s plan for our lives here on earth. Our lives are hinged on a dichotomy of ‘either-or’: either right or wrong, true or false, the secular and the sacred, the holy or the wicked, good versus evil, blessed or cursed, master or servant, believers versus non-believers, destined for life in heaven or destined for hell, Godly or satanic. Human beings are born into this wicked world in the same way that sheep find themselves in the hired hand’s flock. “He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (John 10:12-13 [ESV2011])
The world is full of sin and ‘the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.’ (1 John 5:19) Even when we are born, ‘we are conceived in sin.’ “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps 51:5 [ESV2011]) Unless we turn away and be born again in God, we are doomed while we are here on earth. To save ourselves, we can intentionally jump out of that enclosure of the hired hand and submit ourselves under the authority of a Good Shepherd who happens to be Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God. The Good Shepherd is God personified and has a flock of those who believe in Him while the hired hand is the devil personified and has followers who believe in his wicked doctrine.
The Hired Hand
The flock in the enclosure of of the hired hand is surrounded by danger lurking in the darkness. The hired hand flees when danger comes. There is no greater danger than that which faces sheep in the hands of the hired hand. “He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (John 10:11-14 [ESV2011]) Being in the hands of the hired hand who does not even own the sheep is courting disaster, for he will see the wolf coming and leave the sheep and flee, and the wolf snatches the sheep, robs and eats the sheep and the survivors will be scattered. Why does the hired hand (devil) flee on seeing resistance? Because the sheep are not his for he owns nothing and his nature is to flee if resisted by servants of the Most High God. “Submit yourselves therefore unto God (you servants of the Most High God). Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 [ESV2011])
The flock in the hands of the hired hand find themselves in his sheepfold (enclosure). That sheepfold of the hired hand where we are born in is the world we live in, full of wickedness, dangers and tribulations. “The Lord saw (then and now) that the wickedness of man was (and is) great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was (and is) only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5 ESV) and it grieved Him in His heart, even considering to destroy the man whom He had created. The Bible tells us not to love this world that is full of evil, lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1John 2:15, [KJV]) “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1John 2:17 [KJV])
In that enclosure of the hired hand (the world), are other sheep who are comfortable being inside there for there are no rules to be observed, there is all the freedom they need, deceiving and being deceived and believing in their own gods. Inside that enclosure of the hired hand (the devil’s enclosure) are false teachers, false prophets and devil worshippers. Inside are those who “profess themselves to be wise, and they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Rom 1:22-32 [KJV])
The Good Shepherd
On the other hand, God personifies Himself as the Good Shepherd who takes care of us the same way the good shepherd cares for his sheep. God likens Himself as the Good Shepherd and likens us as His sheep because sheep always follow the shepherd obediently, humbling themselves before Him. Sheep respond to the shepherd’s voice and follow Him. Sheep get lost easily after straying from the shepherd, but the shepherd goes after the lost sheep and restores it to the flock. ‘So Jesus told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. read more. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:3-7)
God loves us the same way the Good Shepherd loves his sheep, even offering to lay His life for His sheep. “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:14-18 [ESV2011])
Our Lord Jesus reveals Himself as the Good Shepherd while the enemy (in this case the hired hand or the devil) is illustrated as the thief. He said that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10-11 [ESV2011]) Our Lord reveals that He is our God, the one who made us and that we are the sheep of His pasture. “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” (Ps 100:3 [ESV2011])
If you have God as your shepherd, He will be with you in trouble (Psalm 91:14-16), in hardships, in the valley of the shadow of death, in sickness and in death. When you pass through the waters, the Good Shepherd, the Lord our God will be with you. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you.” (Isa 43:2-5 [ESV2011])
The Good Shepherd will deliver you out of the trap of the devil with His rod and His staff. David sand that “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps 23:4 [ESV2011])
The shepherd uses the rod to kill the animals which might try to snatch away his sheep. The shepherd also uses the rod to prod the sheep to move to the right direction. In the spiritual realm, the rod is the Word of God that has power and strength to drive out the enemy. It is the power of the spoken word. “But with righteousness shall the Lord judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” (Isa 11:4 [KJV])
Jesus illustrated the power of the spoken word (the rod of the mouth) when He told His disciples that says “Whoever shall say to this mountain ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea’ and shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that those things he says shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he says.” (Mark 11:23).
When you are faced by death in that valley of the shadow of death, God will be there for you to pull you out of danger with His staff. The staff is a long straight thin and strong stick with a crook at the end. The shepherd uses the staff to rescue the sheep that might have fallen into a pit by hooking and pulling it to safety. The staff is the power of the shepherd to save that which is lost, and using it to hook the sheep that have fallen into a pit. It is God’s power to save that we should always walk with; the Holy Spirit of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to His followers after His death, Jesus told them, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8). Peter relates how “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, [and Jesus] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). The Holy Spirit is here associated with the power of God in Him—the power through which Jesus Christ performed mighty miracles during His earthly, physical ministry. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God’s power actively working in His servants.
Concerning the tribulations that face the believers who find themselves in the hands of the hired hand (the devil), just resist the hired hand (the devil) and you will free yourself out of that sheepfold and ask God to help you jump out of that doomed enclosure and into the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd. Apostle Paul wrote, “We (saints who are alive on earth) are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9) We shall not be destroyed because greater is He in us and with us than he who is in the world. “Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind].” Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd has overcome the world for us. Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd said, “In this world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
For Them Who Do Not Know God as Their Good Shepherd, Going Uphill Will Be Followed by Going Downhill
For them who do not know their God, you are up there so that you come down. You are healthy to be sick. And you are doomed to perish. Jesus said, “I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:5 [ESV2011]) You are happy to be sad and you have wealth now so that you lack later. Asaph the poet describes in Psalm 73 how he was personally spiritually disturbed on why the wicked are prosperous. He wrote that He “was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.” (Ps 73:3-5 [ESV2011]) When Asaph tried to make sense of why the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer, it was troubling to him. “Then I entered the precincts of God’s temple, and understood the destiny of the wicked. Surely you put them in slippery places; you bring them down to ruin.” (Ps 73:16-18 [NET2]) The proud and the arrogant are up there feeling on top of the world, not knowing that they are doomed to fall. “Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty (arrogant) spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 King James Version)
Life is full of ups and downs.
In life, you walk up the hills and down the valleys. If you find yourself at valley bottoms and you have submitted yourself to the Lord Jesus as your Shepherd, do not panic for He will lift you up. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10 [HCSB]) “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time.” (1Pet 5:6 [HCSB]) God has vowed to His own that “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2Chr 7:14 [ESV2011]) God stretches His mighty hand to lift the humble when they submit themselves to His Lordship. David the king was delivered by the Lord from the pit and sang that “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” (Psalm 40:2)
While Down There at The Bottom of the Valley of Death, The Good Shepherd Will Be with You
When David was down there in the bottom of the valley of death, he would sing that “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:1-2). David knew that the Lord was the one who made him lie down there in green pastures. When you are down there in the valley of the shadow of death, God has promised that He will be with you in trouble. Just look up unto Jesus and He will lift you up. “Humble yourselves unto the lord and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
When you can go down no farther, look down at what you are lying on; green pastures. The Lord makes me to lie down in green pastures. Valley bottoms are known to be very fertile. When somebody pushes you to the lowest point, look around and you will see all the fertility surrounding you that was not visible to those who are up there – who pushed you down. Every end is a new beginning. God always takes over when we reach our end of the road. There is so much good in the worst of places and so much bad in the best of places. When you find yourself down there at the valley bottom, at the root of mountains, the Lord will lift you up. When Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, God heard him and brought him out of that pit. He praised God saying “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.” (Jonah 2:6)
For Them Who Know Their God, Going Downhill Will Be Followed by Going Uphill
There are two dichotomous plans for humanity: good plans for those who know God as their Good Shepherd and bad plans for those who do not know their God. Those that know their God shall do exploits (Daniel 11:32) You are going down there in the valley of the shadow of death so that you will be up at the top because you have a Good Shepherd.
If you have not found yourself down there at the valley bottom, your journey to the top has not started. The journey to the top always starts at the bottom. As long as you make God to be your Lord, you will be at the bottom so as to be at the top. As long as you make God to be your Lord, you will get sick so that you will get healed. It is not the will of God for you to succumb to sickness. If God loves you personally on condition that you love Him personally, and you love Him with all your heart, soul and mind as commanded in the book of Matthew 22:37-39, then any sickness that will attack you will not lead to death but will be an opportunity for God to glorify Himself in you, to show the world that He is the Lord your Healer (Exodus 15:26, Isaiah 53:4-5), that by the stripes of Jesus you get healed (1 Peter 2:24). “So the sisters (Mary and Martha) sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” (John 11:3-4 [ESV2011])
You are sick inorder to be healed. You are weak to be strong. Ask to be given. Seek to find. Knock the door for it to be opened. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”(Matt 7:7 [KJV]) Note that those flocks outside the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd are doomed to ask for whatever they want only to be denied, seek and lose and knock the door for it to be slammed on their face.
Your situation of ignorance is an opportunity to acquire knowledge if the Good Shepherd is next to you. If you find yourself living a hard life, do not panic if the Good Shepherd is standing next to you for your life will be easy. If you find that you have failed, do not panic for you failed inorder to succeed in Jesus name.
God takes care of them who follow His Beloved Son Jesus Christ as their Shepherd. Jesus said that “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 [ESV2011]) David used to sing that “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). David had no fear of any kind because he had a God who protected him from any danger using His mighty rod. You, like David, are not supposed to have any fear of any kind because you have a God who protects you from any danger using His mighty rod.
The Good Always Comes Wrapped in The Bad
For those who trust in the Lord, who know that God is their Good Shepherd, the good always comes wrapped in the bad. There is always something good in the worst of us. And there is always something bad in the best of us. In this world we are supposed to be roses amongst thorns. When the world gives you lemons, turn them into lemonade. Turn your Penninahs (those who will mock, insult you, pushing you down on your knees to pray) into Hannahs (the mocked one whose prayers were heard and answered by God) because we all need a Penninah in our lives (1 Samuel 1:1-7)). Many are the times you may have a thorn in the flesh to humble you, but God says that His grace is sufficient for you, because when you are weak, that is the time you are strong. “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(2 Corinthians 12:7–10) Brethren, be well pleased with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. Why? Because the Lord says that we should count it all joy when we fall into trials. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 [ESV2011]) In due time, the perfecter of our faith will perfect us to perfection if we continue looking up to Jesus. “Looking unto Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2 [ESV2011]) Because if Christ dwells in you and therefore in your hardships, He will deliver you out of the valley of the shadow of death.
The good comes wrapped in the bad. We don’t get one without the other. The good is always on the flip side of the coin of life. According to the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37, NIV), Jesus narrated to His doubters a parable of “a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers.” The good news was that a good Samaritan was passing by that route and saved him from death. ‘Bandits ready to attack you and the Saviour being there for you in the valley of the shadow of death’ is a dichotomy that is wrapped in the same package to save you in your darkest moments because He is the Lord your Saviour: the Saviour who was made sin on your behalf, who died for you, so that whoever believes in Him might not die but shall inherit everlasting life.
The moments of the bad make the moments of good look really good. Moments of dark can be turned into moments of light by someone lighting a candle for you. Be the light in someone’s life that is full of darkness. Be the only rose in someone’s life by giving him the good news of the of our Lord Jesus Christ so that God opens his eyes to see the rose flower instead of the thorns of the rose plant. “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved.” (2Cor 2:15 [ESV2011])
Journey to the Top Starts from the Bottom
David knew that the journey to the top starts from the bottom. The more he was humbled, the more he knew in his heart that he was headed for greatness. The more the humbling, the greater the uplifting.
Walking down the valley is always followed by walking up the valley. Don’t panic as you go downhill and as you slide downhill, for the Lord went down there before you. None was humbled more than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He came down from heaven to earth. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38) He dwelt amongst us, established the Kingdom of God here on earth and then He died for us after being nailed on the cross at Calvary. He went down to the dead for three days. From there He rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19 ESV) “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34, ESV) “Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” (1 Peter 3:22 ESV)
Jesus never forgot the joy that was set before Him if He endured the cross, and after “despising the shame, He is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus bounced triumphantly back to heaven. And He is coming back to take us to the Father in heaven so that where He is, we may be also.
The good news is that you go down so as to go to the top. You get sick to be well. You fail to succeed. When you meet robbers, know that the Good Samaritan is around and is coming to save you. You lose a loved one to get another loved one called “Jesus, a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). You go through terror of darkness at valley of shadow of death for you to cry to Jesus Christ the light of the world to be ‘a lamp unto your feet and a light to your path/way’ (Psalm 119:105).
When you find yourself down there in the valley of the shadow of death surrounded by robbers, terrors, sicknesses and death, look unto Jesus who is around you and in you and demons/sicknesses/death will flee when you submit yourself in the Lord. Jesus Christ grazes His sheep here on earth (which can be likened to the treacherous valley of the shadow of death) where His sheep are surrounded by all types of enemies who are out to devour the sheep. In this world we shall have trouble, but the good shepherd is comforting us that He shall be with us in that trouble. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:2-3) In this world we shall be afflicted from all sides, but the Good Shepherd will deliver us from all those afflictions. “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” (Ps 34:17-22 [KJV]) In this world we shall have tribulations but the Good Shepherd is exhorting us to be cheerful for He has overcome the world for us. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus will lift you out of the hands of the robbers in the valley of the shadow of death to a life of fellowship with the Holy Spirit, holding your hand as the two of you walk the journey of life together.
With all the goodness of the Lord being showered upon them who have made Jesus Christ as lord and Saviour of their lives, that goodness should always be leading us to repentance. Paul is asking the Romans (despisers and mockers of the goodness of the Lord) why they keep on despising the riches of God’s kindness, restraint, and patience, “not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Rom 2:4 [HCSB]) Let us not keep the goodness of the Lord to ourselves but to move out and share it with others. Let us reach out to the ones who are still lost in that enclosure of the evil one and share with them the good news of the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. My question is: what are you doing in that enclosure of the evil (Sodom and Gomorrah) where an angel of the Lord has been dispatched to you to snatch you to safety telling you to escape. The angel of the Lord is telling you to “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” (Gen 19:17 [ESV2011]) Flee brethren from the wrath of God and seek the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who cares for us.Flee from the wrath of God and seek the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who cares for us. Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and the goodness of the Lord, that is, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which will come upon you. Christ who died your death so that we may inherit everlasting life, was made sin instead of us so that His righteousness be imputed on us, took our shame on Him so that our nakedness (sinful nature) be removed and we be “clothed with garments of salvation and righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). He was rejected and whipped by man so that we be accepted by God “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows (Jesus), and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isa 53:3-5 [KJV]) That is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that is available to whoever believes in Him. Grace: God’s favour poured on them who do not deserve. Someone once gave meaning to the initials’ of the word grace as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Let us be humbling ourselves unto Him and commit ourselves to be sharing the message of the goodness of the Lord by preaching Christ to all nations..