Nehemiah: A Place for His Name to Dwell

Sermon by Wiley Lowry on April 11

Nehemiah 1:1-11

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If you would turn with me to Nehemiah chapter 1; that can be found on page 398 in the pew Bibles. We are beginning a new series on Sunday nights through this book of Nehemiah. And this book, Nehemiah, is about rebuilding. It’s about restoring and reforming. This book is about bringing Jerusalem back from the ruins and establishing community life again within the city walls. You may have heard the Latin phrase before, “semper reformanda.” It means “always reforming,” and it refers to the ongoing need in the Church to reform, to get back to the basics, to get back to the essentials of the faith – to the Word of God and seeking the glory of God above all else. And in many ways, that phrase captures much of what the history of the Old Testament is about. Because you see, the kings who did right in the eyes of the Lord were always rooting out idolatry and they were always reinstituting the true worship of the living God. Ezra and Nehemiah, they had the task of reestablishing word and worship on the other side of judgment and exile. Semper reformanda. Always reforming.

And yet there’s something about that phrase that isn’t altogether flattering, is it, because it’s indicative of the fact that God’s people are constantly wandering and constantly going astray. The need for reform means that there is a problem, and that’s certainly true throughout the history of the Old Testament; it’s certainly true within our own hearts and within the Church as well. We need reformation. We need renewal. We need to refocus our lives around the Word of God and the worship of God to bring glory to His name. And so for that reason we need to give our attention to the book of Nehemiah for the next several months as we look at rebuilding and restoring and reforming through the ministry of Nehemiah.

The book of Nehemiah is the last part of the story of the Old Testament, so the next words that we find recorded about the people of Israel in Scripture come in the New Testament. And originally, Ezra and Nehemiah were one book that describes the events on the other side of the Babylonian conquest and exile. The people of Israel had been in exile in Babylon for seventy years and they were returning to Judah and the temple needed to be rebuilt, the city needed to be restored and put back together and order restored in the community. And part of that had already happened, but there was still work that needed to be done. So that’s what Ezra and Nehemiah are about.

And yet, this book is not really about a building project. And this book is not really about Christian leadership. And this book is not really even about Nehemiah himself. This book is about God. And it’s about God’s glory. And ultimately it’s about the need for the work of Jesus to make a place for God’s name to dwell forever. So we’re going to look at that in this first chapter tonight and our outline will be along three lines – at ease in Susa, in grief for Jerusalem, and on mission for God’s glory. At ease in Susa, in grief for Jerusalem, and on mission for God’s glory. Before we read, let’s pray and ask God to bless the reading and study of His Word.

Our Father, we give You thanks for this portion of Your Word, that every part of Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching and rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. And so we ask that You would do that tonight and that You would equip us for every good work for Your glory. We give You thanks that this story and the story of Nehemiah is not the end of the story and that there is hope in the person and work of Jesus Christ. And so we ask tonight that You would help us to see Jesus and to see His perfect sufficiency as the Messiah, as our Savior, as our Lord and our King. So we ask that Your Spirit would open our hearts and our minds to understand Your Word, to apply it rightly to our lives. Speak Lord, for Your servants listen. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Nehemiah chapter 1:

“The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.’

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.’

Now I was cupbearer to the king.”

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.

At Ease in Susa

Nehemiah, as far as most people would be concerned, had it made. He was living in the most powerful empire in the world. He was in Susa, the citadel, and he was the cupbearer to the king. There was probably not very much that Nehemiah could have wanted materially speaking. He’s in Persia. Persia, which was based in what is now modern day Iran, has been called the world’s first superpower. And at the height of its power, its territory spread from India all the way to Eastern Europe and down into Egypt. It was a global hub of culture, religion, science, art, technology, for over 200 years. And according to some scholars, an article I found said that literary motifs, the custom of daily tea time, care for dogs, refrigeration and air conditioning and many other established aspects of daily modern life originated or were developed by the ancient Persians. Apparently the Persians enjoyed eating something sweet after dinner or eating some other treat after dinner. In fact, they considered the Greeks barbaric and simple minded for not appreciating the value of dessert and thought them uncultured and underfed. And I’m sure we would all add a hearty, “Amen!” to that!

Persia was powerful and they were cultured, and Susa was one of the cities which was home to the king. Susa was one of the oldest cities in the world. And it was located on a plain between two rivers, and so it was one of the most fertile regions in this area. And the Persian kings built a palace there, an incredible palace, to be their winter residence. And it was flourishing and it was a prominent city among the Persian Empire. And so we can say that this city of Susa was really one of the world’s great cities. And so at the beginning of the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah is in Susa, in Persia, and he was cupbearer to the king. So in this prestigious city and in this powerful empire, Nehemiah held a position of prestige and power.

The cupbearer, in the ancient near eastern court, held a very important position according to scholars. He had direct access to the king. And so because of that he had great influence. Later, sources will say that the cupbearer not only drank the wine of the king before it was given to the king but he also had access to the king’s signet ring and was something of the chief financial officer for the empire. I don’t think it’s too much to say that Nehemiah had reached the peak of his career. He was successful and he was comfortable and he was set up to enjoy the rest of his life.

We don’t know how old Nehemiah was at the beginning of this book. This was in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, King of Persia, so it was probably around the year 446, 445 BC. And if you remember where that places the people of Israel in their history, the nation had fallen, Judah had fallen to Babylon in 586 BC. The Persians defeated the Babylonians and started to let some of the exiles return to Judah around the year 538, 537. And so almost 100 years have passed since the exiles had started to go from Babylon, Persia, back into Judah, back to Jerusalem. But Nehemiah was still in Persia. You see, not all of the Jews wanted to go back to Judah and Jerusalem after the exile was over. If you remember what Jeremiah had said to the exiles when they were carried away, he said, “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. And take wives and give your sons and daughters in marriage. Seek the welfare of the city to which I have sent you to exile.” And apparently many of them had done that. They followed Jeremiah’s instructions. Nehemiah is an example of someone of a family who had settled and prospered during the time of the exile.

And it’s hard to move. It’s hard to pack up and to go somewhere else and to start over and to start a life from scratch. Many of the exiles didn’t want to do that. I read a story the other day about a writer who was on a flight and he struck up a conversation with one of the fellow passengers and the man was flying back from Minnesota to San Francisco. He had grown up in Minnesota but he was talking about how much he loved northern California. He loved the weather and he loved the job opportunities, the career opportunities there and on and on and on he went. But something, as he explained all those things, didn’t sound quite right to the writer who he was talking to. So the writer asked him, he said, “Do you ever miss Minnesota?” And he said that the man didn’t answer for a minute or two, and he looked the other direction and his eyes turned a little bit shiny and he said really softly, he said, “Minnesota will always be my home.” There’s something heartbreaking about that.

In Grief for Jerusalem

And the reason I tell that story for this passage is that for Nehemiah, Persia was home. It’s where he was established. It’s where he was settled. It’s what he knew. Why would he ever leave? Why would he ever go back to Jerusalem or to Judah? But it’s not as simple as that. It’s not as simple as that because Nehemiah is one of God’s covenant people. His name is a Hebrew name. He has a Hebrew name. His name means, “Yahweh has comforted,” or “The LORD has comforted.” He could have had a Persian name but he didn’t. He had a name that in his name recognized the God of Israel, the great I AM, as the true and living God. And it’s clear from this passage that he had a fear of the Lord and he seeks the Lord in prayer and in dependence. He knew God’s Word and He is concerned about His fellow members of God’s covenant people. In verse 2 he asks about the Jews. He asks about the Jews who had escaped and who had survived the exile. He wants to know about the conditions in Jerusalem because Nehemiah knows the significance of that place and these people in God’s history and plan of redemption. He knows that it’s with the people of Judah and in the city of Jerusalem that God demonstrates His power and God demonstrates His mercy and His goodness and He displays the glory of His name through those people and in that place.

That’s why, when Nehemiah hears the report about his fellow Jews and about Jerusalem, he’s crushed; he’s crushed with grief and with sorrow. Verse 3 says that, “The remnant there in the province who have survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and it’s gates are destroyed by fire.” In other words, the conditions in Jerusalem are the exact opposite of the conditions in Susa. Susa is the citadel. It’s the palace; it’s the fortress. It’s the place of power and prosperity. Jerusalem – it’s broken down, it’s destroyed, and the people, the small remnant there are in trouble and in shame. By the way, this report in verse 3 about the conditions of the people in the city, it actually provides for us an outline in reverse for the rest of the book of Nehemiah. Because the report is, number one, the community is in crisis. And then number two, the city is in crumbles. Well the rest of Nehemiah, the first half, is going to be about rebuilding the city wall, and the second half is going to be about restoring the community to Jerusalem. So it actually provides us something of an outline for the rest of this book. These are the problems that the rest of the book of Nehemiah is all about.

And when Nehemiah heard these words, as soon as he heard these words, he says, “he sat down and he wept and he mourned for days.” And verse 4 says that “he continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven,” this is something that went on with Nehemiah for months. Nehemiah’s reaction is the opposite of what his name means. His name means “comfort” or “consolation.” There is no comfort or consolation for Nehemiah in this passage. No, he is completely distraught. He’s like the psalmist in Psalm 137. “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.” These are tears for Jerusalem and they are tears for the honor of God’s name among His people and in that place.

There was a book published earlier this year that a father wrote about his son’s travel hockey team and about one season in that team’s existence. And at one point he said during the spring of that year, when he is in the middle of the season, the travel hockey season, he asked his sister, he asked his big sister, “Why do I care so much? Why am I losing my mind about this sport, about this season, and this team?” This is what his sister said to him. She said, “This is what it’s like to send your kids into the world. Your child is not just like you or raised by you; he is you. And when something wrong or unfair happens to him, it brings up things that are so deep and primal it feels like you will die from it.”

See, Nehemiah is so connected to God’s people and he’s so concerned for God’s glory that when he hears this report from Judah it feels as if he could die from it and he is moved to a deep and a distressing sorrow over the news that is brought to him. You see, the shame and the reproach of God’s people and God’s place, of the Jews and Jerusalem in the Old Testament, it is shame and reproach on the name of God. Because the essence of God’s covenant is, “I will be your God and you will be My people,” and God had placed His name on this people and on their land so that they would know Him and so that the nations would recognize that God is powerful and He is strong and He is good and He is merciful. And when Jerusalem lay in ruins, the name of God was dishonored. And there are places in the prophets, in Ezekiel, in Isaiah, in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, in other places like that, that in some ways, in many ways, hint at the events that will unfold in the rest of the book of Nehemiah about rebuilding the ruins and restoring the people. And why do the prophets tell about that? Why is that their message? It’s to bring praise and glory to the name of the Lord among His people, among Israel, and also among the nations.

Think about this. The prophet Daniel, he lived in Susa some years before Nehemiah lived there. In fact, in the place of Susa today there is a landmark; it’s called “The Tomb of Daniel.” It’s supposed that that’s where Daniel was laid to rest. I don’t know if that’s true; it doesn’t seem likely. But we do know that Daniel lived in Susa. He may well have also died there. And here was Daniel’s prayer some years before Nehemiah lived. Daniel’s prayer in Daniel chapter 9, he says – listen to this. “O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself” – He made a name for Himself in bringing the people out of Egypt and delivering them out of bondage, he says – “as at this day we have sinned, we have done wickedly. Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city that is called by Your name, for we do not present our pleas before You because of our righteousness, but because of Your great mercy.” He says at the end of his prayer, “Delay not, for Your own sake, O my God, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” That’s why Nehemiah is so undone. That’s why he turns to the Lord in prayer in verses 5 to 11 because he recognized the same thing that Daniel recognized. It’s that the glory of God’s name is at stake here and he is jealous for the glory and the fame of God’s name. By the way, in the Hebrew Bible, the book of Daniel is found right before the book of Ezra and Nehemiah, so there is a close connection there. You see a connection between the prophecy of Daniel and the events that unfold in the book of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Now let’s just notice as we think about Nehemiah’s response here, let’s notice five things, briefly, about Nehemiah’s response in this chapter.

Nehemiah Turns to Prayer before Action

And the first thing we notice is that Nehemiah turns to prayer before action. He could have rushed into action. He could have formulated a plan. But he doesn’t do that. He stops and he prays. Prayer is a major part of Nehemiah’s life. Prayer is a major part of this book. Before Nehemiah does anything else, he seeks the Lord’s favor about all else and he puts himself in a posture of dependence and submission to the Lord. That’s why he fasts. You see, fasting is giving up food, giving up our own personal needs for a time, for a period of time, in order to seek above our own needs to seek God’s will and to seek His blessing above any desire we might have. And so Nehemiah fasts. That’s a lost practice in many ways in the church today, and yet it’s commended throughout Scripture. It’s something which we would be good to implement into our own lives and into our ministries – to give up at times, for a day, a time of food, to pray and to seek God’s favor and to seek God’s blessing and to seek His help for whatever it is that we need to bring Him glory.

Nehemiah pairs prayer and fasting and he prays, you notice, with a boldness. There’s a boldness to his prayer because his prayer is rooted in the character of God and in the Word of God. He says, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love. Let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open,” verses 5 and 6. Verse 8 he says, “Remember the word that You commanded Your servant, Moses.” He prays with such boldness because he knows the character of God. He knows that God is awesome. He knows that God is almighty and can do great things. And he knows what God’s Word has said and so he prays God’s Word back to Him.

By the way, that’s something that we try to do on Wednesday nights in our prayer meeting – to pray God’s Word back to Him and to bring our praise to Him and to seek His favor and blessing upon our church and upon the ministries and upon the lives of our people. We would love for you to come on Wednesday nights and to join us in prayer that we would have a strong and large group praying like Nehemiah prays to seek God’s favor for us, His people.

Nehemiah Takes Responsibility for His Role in the Problem

So Nehemiah prays, first of all. He also prays, when he prays he recognizes his own weakness and he recognizes his own unworthiness. I think we could say the second thing about Nehemiah’s response is that he takes responsibility for his role in the problem. Nehemiah repents. He confesses the sins of the people of Israel. In verse 6 he says, “We have sinned against You.” But he also says this, “Even I, even I and my father’s house have sinned.” And we don’t know what sin Nehemiah is referring to there in his prayer, but based on the sequence of events in this chapter and in this book, could it be that Nehemiah recognizes his own guilt in the situation that’s unfolded in Jerusalem. Here he was, he was at ease in Susa while Jerusalem is destroyed and while they suffered there. He was a part of the problem and not a part of the solution.

And I wonder if we could say the same thing about ourselves sometimes – that we see problems around us, we see and can identify problems with the vitality of the church, with the Christian witness in the city, with immorality in our culture – in what ways have we contributed to those problems? Have we neglected worship and have we failed to keep the Sabbath holy? Have we left the city for better neighborhoods and for more convenient lifestyles? Have we turned to entertainment options and internet habits and relationships that are – are they upright and healthy? Can we say with Nehemiah, “Even I and my father’s house have sinned”? And in Nehemiah’s distress and his concern, he goes to God first in prayer and he goes to God in repentance.

Nehemiah Was Directed by God’s Word

And the third thing we see him doing was he was directed by God’s Word. Notice how many times he mentions God’s Law in his prayer. Look at verse 5. He says, “Those who love Him and keep His commandments.” Verse 7, “We have not kept the commandments, the statutes, the rules that You commanded Your servant, Moses.” Verse 8, “Remember the word that You commanded Your servant, Moses.” Verse 9, “If you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them.” For Nehemiah, God’s Word is authoritative and it is binding. And I’m convinced that Nehemiah also knew the words of the prophets and he was viewing his own situation in light of those prophets’ message.

John Stott talks about in the act of preaching how there was a double listening that had to happen. And so you listen to God’s Word, you listen to the Scripture, but you also listen to the culture and to the needs of the people around you in order to apply God’s Word to those situations. I think Nehemiah is doing something like that in this passage, in this prayer. He’s reading God’s Word, he’s listening to the prophet’s message, and he’s also listening to the message about Jerusalem and he wants to apply what God said so that he can obey what God said.

Nehemiah is Determined to Act for God’s Glory

That’s the fourth thing that he does here. He is determined to act for God’s glory. I think we could say this is the key to the rest of the book, is what he prays in verse 9. Because God promised that if the people returned to Him and kept His commandments that He would gather them and bring them to the place that He had chosen in order to do what – to make His name dwell there. “To make My name dwell there,” it says. Nehemiah’s project is going to be to restore the place and to prepare the people for the glory of God’s name to dwell there. That’s the heart of his prayer. Before he asks anything for himself, before he asks anything for the people, he asks and is concerned about God’s name and God’s fame among his people among the nations. It’s the fear of the Lord. It’s a delight to fear His name that explains Nehemiah’s prayer and his response.

Nehemiah does not Neglect God’s Work of Providence in His Life

And so based on that desire to act for God’s glory, he prepares himself then to go to the king. And he prays there, “Give success to your servant today and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. Now I was cupbearer to the king.” Notice that. Nehemiah’s response, it involves his own particular preparation and experiences. He doesn’t neglect God’s work of providence in his own life. And that’s the fifth part about his response, is God’s providence. He takes into account God’s calling and his opportunity. Nehemiah didn’t go to seminary at this point. Nehemiah didn’t consider that his calling was a second rate calling. And Nehemiah didn’t stop with prayer. No, he prepared to go to the king. He prepared to go to the one with whom he had influence and for which he had knowledge about the inner workings of the kingdom and how to get things done. He, most likely, had some sort of experience in organization and even oversight over government funds and government projects. And so he could put those connections and he could put those experiences and that knowledge and that influence to work for the good of God’s people and for the glory of God’s name.

On Mission for God’s Glory

And so what we see in this chapter is that Nehemiah goes from being at ease in Susa to being in grief for Jerusalem to now being on mission for God’s glory. He’s on mission for God’s glory now. He’s engaged. He committed to do something for Jerusalem and God will answer his prayer for success. God will answer his prayer for mercy before the king. We’ll see that next week in chapter 2 – the success and the mercy he has before the king. But what we need to understand is this. It’s that there is only so much that Nehemiah can do. And the success that Nehemiah will have, the results that he will find, will be limited and they will only last for a time. They will be short lived in many ways. And the reason why is because Nehemiah, he may be able to rebuild the walls and he may be able to resettle the city, but he can’t change the people’s hearts. And the sin which caused the problem in the first place will continue to cause a problem for the people and in the place of Jerusalem. And he cannot bring about the promises of the new covenant that God had promised through the prophets. He can’t bring about the forgiveness of sins. He can’t give the gift of the Spirit to dwell within his people and he can’t bring about the glory of God which will dwell in the new heavens and the new earth in the new Jerusalem. Nehemiah can’t do that. Only Jesus can.

Only Jesus can do that. And Jesus, He kept God’s commandments and God’s statutes and rules. There was no place for Him even to say, “I and my father’s house have sinned.” And Jesus took on the trouble and the shame. He endured the punishment that sin deserves by dying on the cross. That’s why Jesus went to Jerusalem, you see. Why did Jesus go to Jerusalem? He went to Jerusalem to die, and He was raised from the dead on the third day in order to give forgiveness of sins and to bring about true restoration and to bring about the fullness of the blessings of God for wholeness, for shalom, and to make a place for God’s name to dwell forever, and all those who trust in Him for salvation. If you trust in Jesus for salvation, if you trust in Him as the Messiah, the Savior, you know what He promises to you, don’t you? He says, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” And He says, “I go to prepare a place for you,” a place forever in the presence of His glory, enjoying the blessings that He has secured for us. That’s what Jesus does. And His work will be completed, His work will be perfected at the last day when He returns in glory and in victory. That’s what Jesus does.

And until that time, until that day, Jesus also sends us on mission for God’s glory. That’s the commission that Cory talked about this morning from the gospel of John – to be fishers of men. Another way we could say that is to take God’s name and ministry wherever we go and to have a burden for God’s glory to be in that place and in that relationship and in that situation. Think about it. Think about the places in your life where you spend much of your time. What is the status of God’s name among your neighbors? What is the status of God’s name on your school’s campus? What’s the status of God’s name at your place of work or at your places of recreation? What’s the status of God’s name even in your own home? Are we jealous? Are we jealous for God’s name to be glorified and honored there? And does the harm or the insult to God’s reputation cause us to weep and to fast and to pray for Him to use us and to act? You see, we need Christians who will be moved to give up ease and comfort for the sake of the Gospel. We need Christians who will be moved to look for opportunities to take God’s name to our friends and to the areas of need that we see and that we are able to help and show mercy. We need Christians who are moved to turn retirement into a second career in ministry, maybe even to start a new ministry using the gifts and the calling and the experience that you have gained through your career to turn that into an opportunity for ministry for God’s kingdom somewhere new; to have a second career. Nehemiah, he was at the peak of his career, he was the cupbearer to the king, and yet that’s not what he’s known for. Is it? He’s known for his work for the kingdom of God. What if that’s what you are known for post-retirement – a second career?

We need Christians who will be moved to give up career opportunities and lifestyle choices for the sake of discipling your children and for ministering to your spouse so that God’s name will be honored and revered in your own homes, in our own homes. Where will we say, “I’m not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe”? Where will we say, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel,” and then commit ourselves to the advancement of God’s name and glory wherever we go? I shared at prayer meeting a few weeks ago that there was a ministry planning tool that was shared with me several years ago. And the first step in planning on this little tool was to ask this question. The question was – “What needs do I feel deeply burdened by and uniquely qualified to meet? What needs do I feel deeply burdened by and uniquely qualified to meet?”

Take that question home with you tonight and make a list through the next week, make a list of the places, the things, the needs that you feel deeply burdened by and uniquely qualified to meet. Maybe it could be in your home. It could be in the church or in your Sunday school class. It could be in the city or at school or in your field of employment or in your field of training and knowledge. It could be among your friends or anything else that burdens you. Make a list of those things. And then do like Nehemiah and turn that list into a prayer list and pray, before you rush into a solution, before you rush into action, pray and repent. Take responsibility. Take accountability for those problems and look to God’s Word and seek God’s glory and commit yourself to serve in obedience to Christ and for the good of God’s people, and ultimately for the glory of God’s name.

We’ve seen many things among our congregation where these things have happened – things like Lantern Medical Clinic, Internationals Class, Mission First. Those are such encouraging things. Those are things that are happening in your relationships and in this congregation. We want to see more of those things. We want to see new things happen – new ministry, new places where God’s name and His glory are going out. We want to be people who go from being at ease to being in grief to being on mission for God’s glory. Let’s pray.

Father, we’re humbled by the call to ministry and by the call to engage in the work of spreading the glory of Your name. We’re not worthy for these things, and we have failed and will fail many times in the future. And so we ask that You would, by Your power, work through us and that You would continue to humble us, that it would not be about us but about You and about Your glory and about the name of Christ. And would You help us to be overwhelmed with joy, that You would be so kind as to use servants like us. We ask that You would do that through this church, through the ministry of Your Word and through the prayers of Your saints and through the labors of our hands and our feet. And would You receive all the glory for it. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

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