Kingdom Perspective

Haggai addresses holiness that God has both called us to be holy and is sanctifying us toward holiness. In our pursuit of holiness, we can rest and rejoice in the hope that God saves people from sin.

Topic : Encouragement | Scripture: Haggai2:1

Transcript | Audio


For those who don’t know me, my name is Shea Sumlin. I’m the campus pastor here. If you weren’t with us last week, we opened up the book of Haggai. We’re going a fourweek study on the book of Haggai. It’s one of your minor prophets in your Old Testament. I felt like this particular book is incredibly applicable to where I think we find ourselves as a campus, as a church right here right now 2600 years after this book was written. There are essentially four movements to this book in two chapters. We did the entire first chapter last week, and what we find is what was happening with the nation of Israel between the years 586 and 520 B.C. here. In 586 B.C, the nation of Israel was taken into captivity by the Babylonians due to their idolatry, and they would spend the next fifty years in captivity and slavery in a foreign nation 900 miles away from Jerusalem. Eventually, the Persians came in, conquered the Babylonians and assumed control. In their tolerance and liberty, they allow Israel to return, to go 900 miles back to Jerusalem to rebuild their city, rebuild the temple to their God and rebuild the people that had been devastated and decimated fifty years earlier by the Babylonians. So 50,000 Jews take them up on the offer and head back to Jerusalem, only to start the project of rebuilding the temple, getting the foundation semi-laid before persecution sets in. They then quit working on the temple and take the next fifteen years and pour into their own lives, building up their own houses, their own kingdom and their own name. Until fifteen years later, God sends the prophet Haggai along to go speak to the nation, to encourage them to rebuild. He essentially says to them, “God did not ransom you, liberate you and free you from your captivity so that you would return and live a life for the next fifteen years building up your name at the neglect of His.” In the same way, God has not ransomed us, God has not freed us, He has not saved us from our captivity to our sin so that we might spend the rest of our lives paneling our own houses, building up our own kingdom and making our name great while His mission, His purposes lie in ruins. So God sends Haggai along to encourage them, “Get back to work. God’s not done yet. God has incredible things ahead of you and has saved you for this very purpose, that you might rebuild the temple so that the glory of God would once again dwell in Israel and the nations would no longer be laughing at Israel’s God but would understand the power of who He is, that He is the one true God of the universe. So get back to work. He is with you in this thing. He is your God. He has not forsaken you. He is going to come with you in this endeavor.” So sure enough, the Spirit stirs up both the leaders, Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor, and He stirs up all the people. They get fired up, repentance happens first in their heart, and they revere once again God and heed God’s commands. And then their hands follow, and they get back to work.

So what we see over the next month since that occurred, the people have gotten back to work, the foundation is now laid, walls are beginning to go up, the people are excited and then something derails again. And that leads us to Haggai 2:1. “In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet,. . .” So as I told you last week, this is one of the most detailed books in regard to dates. We know exactly when these messages happened by Haggai. This is October 17 th . This is roughly three and a half weeks after the people repented in chapter 1. Three and a half weeks later, they have gotten back to work and they’re excited. Now if you know something about the Jewish calendar, this date becomes interesting. This would be the next to the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles for Israel. Israel had several feasts that God had called them to remember once a year. Each feast celebrated and recognized an aspect of God’s faithfulness to the nation in various ways in their history. The Feast of Tabernacles is a celebration of two things. Physically and agriculturally, it’s a grape harvest. So every year in the middle of October, they would have the grape harvest, and they would celebrate God’s faithfulness to bring in this harvest. They would celebrate with much wine, much celebration and much enjoyment. If you remember from Haggai 1, God had previously put a famine on this land and there was no grape harvest before. So for the very first time, there

is a grape harvest that is happening here. But most importantly, the Feast of Tabernacles is a celebration that God had instituted in the years after the Exodus out of Egypt, when God had led His people through the wilderness and they set up the tabernacle where God dwelt all those years in the wilderness. And then finally God leads them into the Promised Land. So after that occurred, God mandated that every year they would remember that event. So for the Jews throughout the region, this was one of the few feasts that you actually traveled into Jerusalem. So they came in and gathered to gathered together in little booths and celebrated God’s faithfulness in those years in the wilderness. So this should be a time of incredible celebration. God has stirred up the people, He has ransomed them from captivity, He has given them a new mission in front of them, they get to restore the temple, God is pleased with their hands, it’s the grape harvest coming in and it’s the Feast of Tabernacles. So it should be an extremely celebratory time for the nation, but yet in verse 2, God has to send Haggai in because we have a problem. In what should be a very celebratory time, the nation has become discouraged. Just three and a half weeks after their repentance they’re now discouraged. Something has happened that has robbed the joy of the people in the work that they’re doing. And let me just ask you to put on this lens as we go into the first nine verses of this chapter. Can that happen to us? Can you find yourselves in the midst of God doing some amazing things in your life, obedience to God and His promises are ever before you, but somehow discouragement can find a way in? And in the midst of what should be a celebratory time, you find yourself down, doubting and wondering if this thing that you’re putting your hands to in the name of God is even worth it. Can that happen to us? Absolutely it can happen.

So let’s see what God has to say to the people here. Verse 2, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say,. . .” And here’s the question that Haggai poses to the nation, and in this question in verse 3, we find out exactly what it was that was discouraging them. And it was a rhetorical question. “Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory?” Haggai comes in and says, “By a show of hands, how many of you 50,000 people were actually around 70 years earlier, before captivity when Solomon’s temple was still in its place, still in its splendor and with all its glory?” There is a remnant within this 50,000 people who were of the older generation who remember what it was like to be around back when Solomon’s temple was still standing. So he asks, “Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory?” And the next question is, “How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes?” What had happened is the nation began to work again, they get the foundation laid, the stones are going up and there are older men and women who

are working on it who all of a sudden start conjuring up images of the previous temple. They’re going, “Wait a minute. This doesn’t look like Solomon’s temple. This isn’t as nice as his was. In fact, this looks like a trash heap. This looks like a shack compared to Solomon’s temple. His thing was tricked out, it was laced with the finest jewels, and now it’s in rubble. We’re just putting stones back and mortar on it. This doesn’t look good at all.” And instantly that older generation begins to weep, because they start thinking to themselves, “This will never be as good as we had.” Have you ever been there? Have you ever been in that place where you felt that discouragement? You can just imagine the scene where half the group is excited because they’re getting their hands back to work and the other half is looking at it going, “I don’t know if I can get behind this”? So listen to what Ezra says about this. He shows exactly what’s going on here in Ezra 3:12- 13. “But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.” So you have the old men who are just having the snapshots of what the old temple used to look like, and they begin to weep. They’re just sad because this thing is never going to be as good. And then you have the younger generation who has never known anything different. They don’t know what Solomon’s temple looked like. They have nothing to compare it to. All they know is that God is at work and has given them release from captivity and they get to build up the temple of Yahweh where His glory will once again reside. So it’s exciting for them. You have these two different camps. One is weeping and one is shouting for joy. Can you imagine that scene? Even the surrounding communities could hear the people shouting, and they couldn’t even tell who was sad and who

was happy. Ezra will go on to indicate that the older generation, in their despair and discouragement, begin to allow that to turn into a bitterness that would seep over into the rest of the other generation and rob their joy to the point that the nation quit working again. So God has to send in Haggai to try to lift their spirits again.

Have you ever been in that spot where there is something you have invested in and you’ve put in ton of work and energy, only to get discouraged when you look up and see something across town that’s even better or look in the rear view mirror and think that the present thing will never be as good as something from the past? Now this sounds a little trite, but I remember being in elementary school for a science fair project. We had to build something that had to do with

the earth and show how it works. So I did what a lot of people were doing and I decided to make a volcano. I remember working on this thing, putting little grains of dirt all around it and trying to figure how to get the lava to come up. It was so detailed and I was so proud of it, because I had worked on it by myself and I did it. But when I brought it in, it really just looked like a pile of mud on a board. So I go in and sure enough eight other people had done volcanoes as well. I start looking at the detail of a couple of them. One of them was a big volcano with a fault line coming out. It was a recreation of Superman where they had Superman flying around it and healing the fracture in the earth. Who comes up with that?

I just have a pile of mud on a plate here. And then I look at another one, and this guy has like King Kong on the side of it ransoming people out of the fire. And then I look at mine, and all of a sudden I’m so ashamed of mine, I took my name off of it and walked away. Now I came to find out twenty years later that their parents had done those. As trite as it sounds, all of us have had some of those projects where you go in with great intentions, you’re fired up and you get into it and you’re like, “Man, this thing blows. This is just horrible.” And discouragement just sets in. Now that’s one thing for a personal project, but it’s a whole other thing when that sneaks into a church.

What you have with Israel is two primary issues in this text. The first one is they had allowed the rear view mirror to dictate the front window. They had spent so much time looking back that they neglected God’s promises for the future. So that led to their discouragement. Their second problem is they allowed their discouragement to turn into bitterness, which then turned into criticism, which then turned into gossip, which turned into slander that spread throughout the community. And those who were joyous, those who were thankful for what the Lord was doing instantly found themselves discouraged, thinking that God must not be behind this. So all of a sudden, you’ve got this issue spreading out to the point that the people won’t work again. Can that happen here? Can that happen today? Can that happen in our community? Can that happen in our church? When it gets to the point that you and I start looking backwards so much that we’re no longer moving forward as a church, we’re in trouble. In fact, if we ever get to the point where you hear the language from this pulpit, where you hear the language of your own home groups all being in the past tense as what God used to do, stick a fork in us because we’re done. By the time that happens, we’re done. And I’ve seen it in churches all over the place. These churches have an incredible momentum of success, they then plateau and instead of hanging on to the promises of God and staying focused on the mission that’s before them, they begin to look back. And one generation looks back and goes, “This ain’t like it was back in my day. Those were the good ol’ days of church.” Now it’s not wrong to look back. All throughout Israel’s history, that’s what the feasts and festivals were. There were stones of remembrance, times where you looked back to the faithfulness of God, but that was meant to encourage you in the continued promise of His faithfulness in the mission ahead. It was a celebratory time for that. But the moment we get stuck in reverse where we are looking backwards and we’re simply thinking to ourselves, “It will never be better than it was,” we’re done. God did not intend for us to live out His mission that way, by spending the first ten good years of our youth group and then spending the next fifty measuring it against that standard. That’s not what we were called to live by. The mission of the church, the forward movement of the church is best described when the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3, “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call in God through Christ Jesus.” And he concludes that passage by saying, “Let those of us who are mature think that way.” And that’s the idea of maturity in a church. It’s a church that is not caught up in what happened in 1962 but is thinking about what God intends to do in the community among us and the one that is yet to come. That is

where God wants to take us. So one of the problems that the church can face and some are obviously facing to this day was the temptation to want to neglect the promises of God, neglect the current activity of God and stay focused on what God had done years ago.

The second problem though for this particular group was when they allowed their own personal discouragement to begin to turn into bitterness that gave root in their heart. That bitterness then began to move itself outward. Instead of just taking that to the Lord and going, “Lord, You need to encourage me,” they began grabbing other people and going, “Man, this isn’t even worth out time here. Let me tell you how it was done back in the day. This isn’t anything.” And then you’ve got a young guy all of a sudden going, “Really?” And he starts feeling doubts. And the next thing you know, that spreads within the church and dissension has gone all throughout the camp to the point that the people no longer obey anymore and just stay stuck in neutral. So when that happens, we’ve got to begin to fight against that. One of the temptations could be for us to look back right now and go, “You know what? This place will never be like it was back when it was at the Highland Village campus. That was when it was small, we knew each other and we had a hundred services. That was when it was cool. And now we’re in an Albertson’s.” But whatever it may be, essentially we’re saying, “God’s not good enough to do anything better than He did before.” And then that could spread like cancer to others

in the body. This is how God feels about this issue. Proverbs 6 says, “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him. . .” In other words, “Here’s a list of seven things God hates. The first six are bad, but the seventh is an abomination, the worst one of all. They are, “. . .haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” That’s what the Lord hates. He finds it detestable. Because God’s goal for the nation is not that they would be living out what happened fifty years ago, but that they would be living in the promises that He has for them in the future and that they would have to trust in that. Even though their own perception of this temple would never compare to the old one, God is not about the physical building. God’s about what’s going to happen through that building, namely the glory of Himself and the blessing upon the nation. So that was the importance to God. What God did not want was other people within the camp stirring up dissension, pulling people away from that end.

Now let me tell you why I think one of the root issues behind both of these is when we start worshiping the forms of a church more than the function. The function of the church is quite simple – that we would glorify God above all else, that we would be faithful to make disciples as He has commanded us to, that we recognize that we are in the ministry of reconciliation as God is reconciling all things unto Himself and that you and I, as the elect, as His saved people, as His church, we get to play in that field and serve that mission. So that’s the function of the church. Now the forms of the church are vehicles that will help drive that function. The forms may change from time to time. For some people, we begin worshiping the forms at the neglect of the function. So we start canonizing and tying a theology in to the forms and not the function to the point where we have a hard time letting go when a form changes. So some people go, “The way you do church is Sunday school. That’s the way.” Well you have others who go, “No, you need Bible studies. You need to get into living rooms and home groups.” Others go, “Worship needs to be done this way. This is how the songs need to be. This is how the songs don’t need to be.” And we start doing this, and we somehow lose sight of what the actual function was in the first place. And then when those forms get taken away, what you’ll have is people throwing a fit. You don’t believe me? What if we moved Bleecker’s position on stage from the right side to the left side? I promise you that we would get e-mails from some of you in here right now going, “Hey man, I don’t get what you guys are doing. I don’t know if you prayed about that before you made that move, but you don’t move the worship guy on that side of the stage. I’ve been here nine years, and we’ve never done that.” People will throw a fit. And then they’ll start talking to one another. “Can you believe they did that? Bleecker isn’t going to look good over there. I don’t even know that Jesus is in this church anymore.” What they miss is that the function is still the same, but the form changed. And you can apply that to whatever you want in church, but what happened here in Haggai is there was a generation that could not get over, “This is what the temple looked like, and I cannot fathom God doing anything through anything different.” And

they were discouraged. I’m not arguing against the discouragement. I’ve been there. The older I get, I’m doing things I swore I’d never do. I’m getting more and more nostalgic, and it’s freaking me out. If you go into my parents’ house, it’s like it froze in 1986. There’s just this point where you go, “I’m done. I can’t go there. DVD player? Never. VHS until Jesus comes back.” So I said to myself, “I’m never going to do that.” But I was at the store the other day and I walked past a record player. I just sat there for about 10 minutes going, “Wow, I’d like to have that again.” So it’s one thing though with personal nostalgia, but it’s another thing when we start doing that in a church and to the mission of God. We can’t move forward because we’re so hung up on the forms of old. So here you have a nation that is frozen now because they have allowed that discouragement to settle in their hearts an they’re not trusting in God’s promises.

So what do you do? What does God have to say when we find ourselves in those moments? And we will find ourselves in those moments. What do we do when we find ourselves in those moments of discouragement? Along comes Haggai 2:4. “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” God is telling them. “Be strong.” Literally translated, He says, “Take courage.” It’s the same message He gave them in Haggai 1. “Take courage. Get to work. Because I am with you. I don’t associate Myself with things I’m not with. I happen to like what’s going on here. I’m with you on this. I’ve got your back on this. I’m going before you on this. Come with Me. And when you do that, you don’t have to be afraid. So fear not. You’ve got nothing to be afraid of, because I am Yahweh, I am God, I am the Creator of all things, I am your Redeemer and I am on your side in this.” So He gives this encouragement to the people. So God says here to those who are discouraged the same thing that He said two months earlier. “Take courage, because I’m with you.” But what’s interesting this time, what is different from chapter 1 is what He says in verse 5. “. . .according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt.” What’s interesting this time is that Haggai uses the Exodus account to back up the promise that God is with the people in this. The freedom from slavery of the Jews from Egypt was no work of mankind. It was clearly miraculous. No man parts the Red Sea and allows people to walk through it. No man can do that. Only the Maker of heaven and earth can control that kind of environment.

So that was a miracle and the people knew it. To this day, a Jew looks back at the Exodus event as probably the most pillar events in all of their history. Because for a Jew, that’s the one even that, regardless of how discouraged you get, what kind of bad day you have, how bad your enemies are attacking you, when you look back on that event, it’s the one event that you can absolutely hang your hat on that reminds you that God is for you as a people. Because no human did that. So God is with us. So Haggai uses that, because when Israel made it through the Red Sea and got to the other side in Exodus 19, God made the nation a promise. He said, “From this point on, as you go through the wilderness journey,

I am with you. I’m your God, and I will not forsake you.” That was the promise He gave in Exodus 19. Haggai takes that same event, that same promise and says, “Oh you Jews who so remember that event and so remember the promises of God, do you not know that the same God who promised you His presence would be with you then is promising you still today that He is with you? So take courage. Don’t be afraid.

And on top of that, as you’re reading verse 4, if you were a Jew, these words would have sounded absolutely familiar if you knew your Old Testament, if you knew your Hebrew Bible. Because these were the same words almost to the letter that King David said to Solomon when he was building the first temple in 1 Chronicles 28. “Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.”” That was the promise that God gave Solomon when they were building the first temple. And now, in almost identical words, it’s God saying, “The same God who was behind the building of the first temple is the same God who is behind the building of this next one. So don’t forget, and get back to work.” I would say that, in our day and in our element,

we just as much need to hear those words. For you and me who are serving faithfully, trying to allow the Holy Spirit to

use us to help build up His church, to help reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ, there are those days when discouragement sets in and you start looking back, thinking about those golden years and thinking, “Man, this is just hard. This is just difficult. I’m not sure any fruit is coming from this.” I hope in that moment God would say, “I’m the One who saved you. I’m the One who liberated you. If anybody is for My plan, it’s Me. If anybody is for you being a part of My plan, it’s Me. I’m with you. So don’t look at your physical circumstances and allow those to dictate how you obey or don’t obey. Look to the promises that I have before you. That’s your hope. Now get to work.”

One last bit of encouragement and probably the biggest one they needed to hear is in verses 6-9. God will give one more reason for His people to be encouraged in their rebuilding efforts. He’s going to essentially tell them, “This temple that you’re building, though it seems like nothing to you, I have plans for this thing that will make Solomon’s temple seem insignificant compared to what I’m about to make happen.” So God is going to put before them His ultimate purposes for what their work is going to accomplish as the reason for hope. He says this, “For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.” So God is telling them, “There is something coming with this temple that you can’t see. You’re building into something right now that you’re going to have to take by faith, not sight. And you’re going to have to trust Me when I say it’s going to be worth it and that this work you’re pouring into is not in vain.”

And Haggai gives what’s called a progressive revelation or a dual revelation in which he tells them some things that are going to happen in the immediate future and also some things that are going to happen in the final days. So in one sense, Haggai tells them, “This temple has significance because this is going to be the temple that is going to be standing in Jesus’ day.” This temple that Zerubbabel is building is going to last for 500 years before King Herod comes along, and he’s going to trick it out. He is going to lace it with gold, expand it and it’s going to be an incredibly beautiful sight physically as a temple. But eventually, this is going to be the temple that a little boy named Jesus is going to be sitting in when His parents are coming to look for Him. This is going to be the temple that Jesus is going to drive the money changers out of. That’s this very temple. This is going to be the temple where Jesus is going to be put on trial before His sentence of death and ensuing resurrection. That’s this temple. So this temple has some very significant influence in Jewish and world history. But we also know that this is the same temple that’s eventually going to get destroyed. In 70 A.D., the Romans are going to come and absolutely demolish this temple, to the point that nothing else has been rebuilt since. If you go to Israel today, the foundation of this temple is still there, but there is not temple on top. Instead, you have the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the most holy sites for the religion of Islam.

So that was this temple. But what Haggai is doing here is talking about the temple that would continue longer after the physical building was destroyed. Jesus said, “You can tear down this temple, and in three days I’ll build it back again.” Was Jesus talking about the physical temple? No, He was talking about Himself. “I’m the real temple. The glory of God doesn’t rest inside an ark. I am the glory of God. I’m the manifestation of God. So though you tear it down, I’m going to resurrect in three days.” Even farther down the road, we know from prophecies in Ezekiel, Hebrews, 1 Thessalonians and Revelation that tell us that there will be another temple that is rebuilt by the Lord Himself. And on that day, though the heavens and earth will shake and the nations will shake and everything around it will fall apart, that temple will remain, and the treasures of all the earth will come there to worship the One and true living God. So what God says through Haggai to His people is, “You are building into something that you can’t see. It looks like a shack to you. It doesn’t look like the good old days of Solomon’s, but you have no idea what’s coming down the road and the majesty of the Savior who will one day be the very temple of God for you all. So there is hope that’s in this. So know that this little thing you’re pouring into isn’t little. It’s big. And you don’t need to trust in your own physical circumstances. You need to trust in the promises of God who is doing a work among you that you just can’t see.”

So that’s the second message of Haggai. What can we learn from this text? What do we take away 2600 years later? One thing is that it is inevitable and discouragement will happen. We are not exempt from discouragement. I don’t care how good things are right now, how wonderful you feel in your relationship with the Lord, the days come when discouragement happens, when you just don’t feel like what we’re pouring into is worth it. When those days come, how will we deal with discouragement? Will we look to the promises of God in those days? Will we hold tightly to them and take our eyes off our physical circumstances and look to Him to keep us going? Or will we simply give in and allow that temptation to build up within us, take that discouragement where it doesn’t need to go and bleed its way into a church and one by one, through gossip and slander, we begin to divide, shut down and take the legs out of what God’s intending to do here in this community through this church. We have to fight against that temptation to keep our eyes fixed on

the rear view mirror, hang your hat on the glory days of the past and feel that everything else pales in comparison, as if to say that God is not alive and doing something in our midst today. We have to fight the temptation to want to allow that discouragement to turn into bitterness that then seeps through and divides this community. God’s desire is that we would be unified. We may not be in complete uniformity where we all agree on the same forms, but we have been called to be unified. And that is in the function of what God wants to do through this church for His glory’s sake. I think when those discouragements come, we need to turn our hopes upward, and we need to recognize that our God is alive. He has not saved us so that we would live a life building into our own kingdom, and He has not saved us so that we allow discouragement to just put us in neutral for the rest of our lives. He has saved us for the hope of the glory that is His. And He is calling us forward now as His church to move forward in obedience, trusting in Him and the promises that He will fulfill.

Let’s pray. “Father, I just thank You for the blessing of the promises of Your Word. In the midst of days where discouragement sets in, where we feel that this isn’t worth it, when that discouragement turns into bitterness and we feel that temptation to want to bring others down with us, I pray that You would lift our sights upward and You would remind us that You are God and You have not abandoned or forsaken us. You are with us, and Your presence is abiding in us today for Your Holy Spirit who indwells us. I thank You that Your promises will hold true and we have a good and faithful Savior who we can cling to. So Lord, encourage us as a body. Keep us moving forward in this community so we might reach the people around us with the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that many can come to know our God, the very One who knit them in their mother’s womb. Keep that tether close to You, God, so that we might serve You faithfully. I pray for the glory of Your name, the glory of Your Son and the glory of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”