Where is God in This?

During difficult times we may wonder why has God abandoned us?

George Wright
Jun 16, 2019    44m
In this sermon we are introduced to a series based on the Book of Habakkuk. It looks at the fact that during difficult times we may wonder why God has abandoned us. It teaches us that God is big enough to handle our big questions, God is doing something bigger than we could ever understand or imagine, and our suffering is not in vain. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Let me encourage you now to grab your Bible, and we're going to be starting a new series this morning diving into a book in the Old Testament, perhaps a book that you have not spent a lot of time in. Let me just ask by show of hands, how many of you have spent a lot of time in the Book of Habakkuk this week? A lot of people. All right, maybe somebody.
George Wright: 00:20 Okay, so Habakkuk a minor prophet in the Old Testament. We're going to walk through a series over the next few weeks through the book of Habakkuk. So, I encourage you to grab your Bible, turn to Habakkuk chapter 1, and we'll get this series started. We'll talk a little bit about the context here in just a moment, but I want to read these opening verses to get us going. If you're having trouble finding it, just so you know by way of reference, it's right after Nahum. Okay, so hopefully that helps you. It's in the Old Testament, and it's right near the end of the Old Testament. So if you can find Matthew, if you can find the New Testament, just turn back a few pages to the left, and you'll be able to find the Book of Habakkuk, three short chapters. This minor prophet. And the minor prophets in the Old Testament are called minor, not because they're insignificant, but because they are short. There are 12 minor prophets at the end of the Old Testament, all very short books, speaking of prophetic word of God to the people of God.

George Wright: 01:23 And that's what we see here from Habakkuk chapter 1 beginning in verse 1. Let me encourage you to stand with me as I read from God's word, so that we all can be reminded as we stand around the room, the word of God is our authority. And when we gather together as a people of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, we are standing on a solid rock foundation. As we turned to his word, a solid rock foundation of what God says is right and good and true. So this is the word of the Lord as it says here, verse 1, the oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw divinely inspired words given to the prophet Habakkuk to speak to the people of God, to speak to us. It says, "O' Lord, (The words of Habakkuk.) how long shall I cry for help? And you will not hear. Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted." What is wrong with this, right? This is an unhappy prophet speaking to God, saying, God, what are you doing? Evil is all around God, where are you? Have you ever wondered that? God, I don't know how we're going to survive this. What are you doing? That's Habakkuk. In verse 5, the Lord begins to answer, God says this, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told." This is the word of the Lord.

George Wright: 03:44 Let's pray, and let's ask God to use this word in our lives as we turn our attention to him. Would you pray with me? Heavenly Father, on this father's day, we are so grateful that as we come before you, we can call you Father. As your word invites us to to cry Abba, Father, because we can trust you. You are a good father, a perfect father. So we come before you asking you to speak into our lives, believing, Lord God, collectively that in the power of your spirit you can speak specifically to each one of us today, and so I pray that it would be so. And you would use this time to allow us to see what we need to see, and hear what we need to. hear, we look to you. We pray in Jesus' name that you would speak into our lives specifically as it relates to walking through seasons of struggle, walking through difficulties. Ipray, Lord God, that your word would show us the way. How we need you, and how grateful we are on this father's day. For all the dads who have joined us, we pray, Lord, that they would feel honored and that you would bless them as they look to you. It's in Christ's name we pray. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing.

George Wright: 05:21 So I hope that you are asking the question, why in the world where we spend several weeks walking through the book of Habakkuk? How do we even pronounce this guy's name? I mean, what is this really all about? How can this little tiny, minor prophet in the Old Testament, seemingly an obscure chapter an obscure book of the Bible, how can this apply to our lives? Why in the world do we need to spend time in this book? I want you to know first and foremost, I believe all of my heart that every bit of the word of God is God's inspired word. We need to see what the word of God says to us on every page. The Lord has spoken through divinely inspired authors to give us his word. It applies to our life. It is relevant, every page. And specifically in the book of Habakkuk, we see some very important questions that we need to wrestle with, some big questions of the faith.

George Wright: 06:32 Before we get there, I do want to give you just a little bit of context. We don't know a whole lot about Habakkuk, the author of this book. There's not a whole lot known about his lineage, or his family. But what we do know, what scholars do show us, is that Habakkuk prophesied somewhere around 600 BC. So, roughly 600 years before Jesus Christ comes to the earth in the flesh. Habakkuk is speaking to the people of God as a prophet of God, and he's speaking to the people of God in a time of great turmoil. At this point in the story, the kingdom of Israel has been divided into two kingdoms. There's a Northern kingdom called Israel, and a Southern kingdom called Judah. And as Habakkuk comes onto the scene, the Northern kingdom Israel has already been taken away in captivity, these are dark days for the people of God. And the Southern kingdom, Judah, is just trying to survive. They've been through a season of some really terrible Kings. Some Kings that walked them away from God and his word. Some Kings that were worthless leaders. And now as Habakkuk begins to prophecie, there's a group of people in the scripture called the Chaldeans, or the Babylonians, that have risen to power. The great world power of Egypt is starting to decline, the great power of the Assyrians is starting to decline, but the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, they are on the scene and they are coming with fury. They are destroying every nation around them. They are conquering, they are plundering, they are enslaving every people that they come in contact with, and they are headed towards Judah. Things do not look good, at all, for the people of God.

George Wright: 08:31 And so Habakkuk begins to pour out his heart to God, and he is very honest, almost painfully honest in the way he speaks to God. In fact, it appears that he's making some accusations, some very bold accusations against God. Here's the deal, I realize you may be here this morning and you may be wrestling, you may be in a very difficult season of life. I believe that Habakkuk is a gift to you. Because it's in this book that the prophet is wrestling with questions like, God, where are you in the midst of all this evil that is running rampant around me? God, I don't know if I'm going to survive this. What are you doing? I mean, we see it in verse 2 and 3 these, these statements, God, it, it appears like you're silent in the face of violence. It appears like you're sitting idly by, like you're just not doing anything at all. You may be here today feeling like that. I know that some of you have come into this room this morning carrying some great weight. Some of you are walking through very difficult relationships, and the way things are going are just not the way you ever planned, and this has been more painful than you ever could have imagined. I mean, some of you are watching your children do things that you never thought would be possible, and no matter what you say to them, they're not listening, they're not changing. And they seem to be running further and further away from God, and it's incredibly difficult. And you're just wondering, I don't know if I can survive this heartbreak. Some of you have been given a health diagnosis, or someone you love has been given a health diagnosis, that just looks so bleak. And there doesn't appear to be a lot of hope, and the experts are telling you it's time to prepare for the worst, and you're literally wondering, how are we going to make it through this? God, where are you in all of this?

George Wright: 10:45 That's where we find Habakkuk, the nation around him as he knows it is falling apart. There are enemies breathing down their neck. Everything looks hopeless. Everything looks dark. It looks like evil is winning the day, and worst of all for Habakkuk, it appears like God is just sitting there doing nothing. Why don't you save us God, Habakkuk says. And here's what I want you to pay attention to as we walk through this book. One of the great gifts of this book is it speaks to those who are walking through a crisis of faith, it speaks to those who are wrestling with big questions, it speaks to those who are wondering where God is in the midst of all this pain and all this struggle. This book is for you. And we see right up front in the way that Habakkuk cries out to God, a very important truth. I want to put this on the screen, because some of you need to hear this. Habakkuk prays in such a way, that he shows us God is big enough to handle our big questions. God is big enough to handle our big questions. Now I know for some of y'all, that makes you a little nervous. So if you were brought up in a religious culture, or religious household, that said, never question God ever. But the Bible actually invites us to pray very honest prayers. The Bible invites us to be honest with God. The Bible shows us that the reason God is worth following in faith, is because God is big enough for our big questions. And God is big enough to speak into the greatest struggles and challenges that we face. You see, Habakkuk is an invitation to stop praying polished prayers, and to pray honest prayers. To pray gut level, soul churning, prayers because God can handle it.

George Wright: 13:23 You know, we see this all throughout the scripture. We see this all throughout the psalms. The songs that are are known for being expressions of worship, so often are expressions of worship, because God is speaking through the struggle. Listen to some of these Psalms. Psalm 10 verse 1, "Why O' Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" Have you ever felt that? How about Psalm 13 verses 1 and 2, "How long O' Lord, will you forget me forever? How long we hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" Some of you are feeling that today. Psalm 22 verse 1 and 2, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" This is the very prayer that Jesus prays on the cross, in honesty, in anguish. Why God, have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me from the words of my groaning? Oh my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer. And by night, but I find no rest. The scripture is incredibly honest. And it is actually, I believe, a beautiful gift that God has given us a book like Habakkuk, where the prophet is struggling, walking through a struggle, a difficulty, and crying out to God in an honest way. This is an invitation to pray painfully honest prayers, because God can handle it. And he wants to speak to you in the midst of your struggle, if you will come before him in honesty, as you struggle.

George Wright: 15:39 Now, one of my all time favorite actors, is an actor named Robert Duvall. And one of the reasons why Duvall is one of my all time favorite actors, is because he plays one of my all time favorite characters ever in the mini- series, Lonesome Dove. Has anybody seen Lonesome Dove or heard of Lonesome Dove? Okay, you need to get the book and read it, it's amazing. And you need to watch the mini-series, it's phenomenal. Okay? Duvall plays a character named Augustus McCrae, he's this tough old cowboy. And man, he is just phenomenal in this role. But there's other movies Duvall has been in that I like as well, and one of them is a movie in the mid-nineties called The Apostle. It was kind of a relatively obscure movie, not a ton of people saw it. But in this movie The Apostle, Duvall plays an itinerant preacher, who has a crisis of faith. He walks through a very difficult season. He has this crisis of faith, and the movie justshows this story in a very honest way. And there's a line that is spoken in the movie about this itinerant preacher and the way he prays, and I love this. We're going to throw this up on the screen. They say this about his prayers, sometimes he talks to the Lord, and sometimes he yells at the Lord, and right now he just happens to be yelling at him. Man, I love that. Has anybody ever yelled at God? You're not going to raise your hands, it's church, right? Can't say that. I mean, what am I about to say? Here's what I'm about to say. Some of you need to spend a little time yelling at God, because you just haven't been honest. And I know that makes some of you nervous. It seems so disrespectful. But listen, God wants your heart, stop trying to hide your heart from God. If you're struggling, tell him, he can handle it. He wants to hear from you. He knows what's going on. He knows the details. He knows the struggle is real. Hashtag. He wants to hear you pour out your heart to him. You don't need to pray polished prayers, you can pray honest prayers. You can pour out your fears. You can pour out your doubts. God can handle it. He wants to hear from you. If he can't handle it, he's really not worth following in the first place. He's big enough to handle it. Bring your doubts before the Lord.

George Wright: 18:17 That's what we see with Habakkuk. He is struggling, it is difficult, it is painful. God, why do you sit idly by? God is positioning Habakkuk to be able to listen, to be able to hear what he needs to hear, and see when he needs to see. I love this quote from Pastor J D Greer, who's the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He says this about doubt, "Doubt is one of God's most common tools to drive you deeper into faith. Faith that hasn't been tested with doubt is shallow and fragile. God wants to grow it and strengthen it." The scripture talks a lot about doubt. What the scripture shows us over and over again about doubt, is that we are invited to bring our doubts to the Lord, to be honest, to cry out to God, to bring our questions to God in a very real and honest way. Matthew chapter 11 verse 28 and following Jesus says this, it's a beautiful invitation, "Come to me all who labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Learn from me, I'm gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls." You can say, you will find rest for your doubts. "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Jesus is inviting us to bring the weight of doubt to him. You can carry it for a time, but doubt will get overwhelming. It will become too heavy a burden for you to carry. Bring it to the Lord, and let God show you how he will carry your burdens. Let God meets you in the midst of the struggle.

George Wright: 20:13 So, we see how the Lord responds to Habakkuk's doubts and his questions. Verse 5 of chapter 1, I would encourage you, underline this, highlight it, circle it, put a star by it in your Bible. Do not forget this verse. Hey, even if you're using one of the Bibles in the Pew, just underline it, somebody else is going to need to see it, it's fine. It's fine. Habakkuk 1 verse 5, "Look among the nations. God says, look among the nations and see wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days, that you would not believe if told." This is an incredible statement by God. This is a beautiful promise, a declaration by God about himself that says, I am sovereign, I am in control, and even though you don't understand right now, I'm not absent. In fact, I'm at work doing something that is so much bigger, so much better, so much greater than anything you can understand or imagine. God is saying, I am doing something bigger. Habakkuk, don't miss this, I'm doing something that's so significant right now, even in this struggle that you are facing that you wouldn't believe it if I told you. God goes on to explain to Habakkuk that this danger of these Babylonians, these Chaldeans, that are pressing in on the nation of Judah is actually something that God is going to use ultimately for his glory. Habakkuk 1 verse 6 says, "For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation who marched through the breadth of the earth and seized dwellings that are not their own. God is saying to Habakkuk, I've got this. I know it doesn't seem like it right now, and it feels like the world is falling apart, but I've got this. And the Babylonians, even as they are wicked and evil are going to be a part of my plan, I'm going to use them ultimately for my glory and for your good.

George Wright: 22:36 God goes on to describe this to Habakkuk verses 7 through 11, and says, That I am going to use these people, even though they look like the last people on earth that I would use, I'm going to use these people. And it will be painful, it will be difficult, there will be suffering, but I will use these people to lead to a great repentance. To lead to a great time of redemption for my people." God is taking Habakkuk to some very deep water here, this is not the kiddy pool of faith, this is deep water. God is saying Habakkuk, I know it doesn't make sense right now, but I am at work to bring about salvation for many. I'm doing something right now that will allow more and more people to see that they need me, and ultimately we'll invite more and more people to trust in me as they return me. I know it doesn't make sense to you right now, I know you can't understand it right now, even if I explain it to you. But trust me, I'm in control. And I realize this is not easy for any of us to consider, like Habakkuk, so many of us so quickly develop tunnel vision, where all we can see is what is immediately in front of our face. All we can see is what is pressing in right now. It's so hard for us to see the big picture. But God does not see like we see, God is not limited by time or space. He has a plan that is so much bigger, and so much greater, than what we can see in front of us.

George Wright: 24:33 The prophet Isaiah speaks to this. Some of you have probably heard the verses in Isaiah 55, I'm going to to put them on the screen, because they are such a gift to us in the midst of a struggle. What does God say through the prophet? "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." And then it says this, this is beautiful, "For as rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there, but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater. So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth, it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." I know it may not seem like right now that God is control as you look at your life. I know you can look out at our nation, and see a nation that appears to be more divided than it has been in decades. And you can say, God, where are you in all this? Why don't you just do something? It seems like you're sitting idly by. You think about what you're walking through right now, and you're like, God, I'm asking you to do something. God is saying, listen, listen, my purpose will be seen. The words that I have spoken, they're not empty promises, my promises will be fulfilled. The words that I've spoken are like seed going into the ground, it will sprout. Right now, you don't see the sprout, all you see is barren ground. But trust me, the seed will bring forth life. You will see, my plan will succeed, my purpose will go forth, trust me. This is the word of the Lord.

George Wright: 27:01 And I know, I know, that sounds good unless you're walking through suffering, right? That's great to hear that God is in control, but when you're walking through suffering, all you feel his pain, all you feel is the struggle, all you feel is the difficulty. That's where we find Habakkuk, he says to God, you can start to read this beginning in verse 12, God, thank you for that. Glad to be reminded that you're in control. But right now the Chaldeans are still coming, it's still hard, and this is not what I want. So God, here's my proposal. God, I've got an idea for you, I've got an idea. I know you're in control, but I really think I could give you a better plan than the one that you've laid out. So let me just tell you what I think you should do. I think you should kill the Chaldeans, send them away, and make my life easier. That's what I think you should do. How about that God? Read it, Habakkuk 1, 12 through 17 Habakkuk is is firing back at God. Okay, I hear what you've said. I hear that you're in control, but God, I don't really like that plan. I've got a better plan. Have you ever done that? Nobody wants to raise their hand. God, I know I'm supposed to trust you right now, but I just don't see it. God, I know, I know that you say you're in control, but right now it just doesn't look like it. God, I know you say you're doing stuff that I can't even understand, but I'd love to just tell you how to make it right. So God, why don't you listen to me.

George Wright: 28:51 Isn't it amazing how honest the scripture is. Well, here's a prophet of God who's struggling, having a crisis of faith, walking through this difficult season. And he says to God, I know you're in control, and I know you said I would not understand the plan. And guess what? You're right, I don't understand the plan, so I think you should follow my plan. Why don't you reconsider? Verse 1 of chapter 2, Habakkuk says, "I will stay, take my stand at my watch post, I’ll station myself on the tower. I'll look out to see what he, God, what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint." Habakkuk is saying, God, I just don't like what I see, it just doesn't look good right now. And look at how God responds, this is so beautiful, and this is such a gift to anyone who is struggling. Habakkuk chapter 2, verses 2 through 4, it says, "The Lord answered me, write the vision, make it plain on tablets so he may run, who reads it?" God's saying, don't forget what I'm telling you, write it down. And then he says, "For the vision awaits its appointed time, it hastens to its end, it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it, it will surely come. It will not delay. Behold his soul is puffed up talking about the Chaldeans. It is not upright within him, but the righteous. (Don't miss this.) The righteous shall live by faith." This is so important, and this is so good. God is saying to Habakkuk, Habakkuk, your suffering is not in vain. I am in control, I do have a plan, I know it's not the plan that you want, but it's the plan that leads people to trust in me, so it's the best plan. And you've got to trust, Habakkuk, that there is something bigger at play than just what you're walking through right now. There is a greater plan. There is a greater story. And guess what, Habakkuk, you're not at the center of it. And I am doing something that is so much bigger than anything you would believe if I told you. And I want you to understand that my timing is perfect, the vision will come to light at its appointed time. It may seem slow right now, but it is coming, trust me.

George Wright: 31:49 So you can either begin to live in a puffed up, arrogant way like the Chaldeans, which is their demise ultimately. Or you can, like the righteous, live by faith. Will you trust me? Will you believe the word that I have spoken? What I am doing will be for my glory, and for your good. Ultimately, that is where you will find your greatest joy. I know it's not easy right now. I know this is not the way you wanted things to go, but you can trust me. I've got this, and I've got you. The righteous will live by faith. You cannot follow me without faith. That is what God is saying to Habakkuk. It's one thing to say that God is in control when the sun is shining, and the bank account is full, and everything is going our way, and all relationships are beautiful. It's another thing altogether, to say God is in control when things appear to be falling apart all around us, God is saying to Habakkuk, what I believe God is saying to us, will your faith be in circumstance, or will your faith be in me? Will you place your faith in the circumstances, and the things of this world, that are constantly changing and will always disappoint you? Or will you place your faith in the one who is unchanging and will never disappoint? The righteous will live by faith.

George Wright: 33:51 And as we wrap this up today, we'll step back into Habakkuk chapter 2 next week., But today as we conclude, I just want to remind us all, as we face suffering and struggles which we all will face in some form or fashion. The word of God, and the message of Jesus Christ, has given us the best possible means by which to deal with the struggle. I love this quote from pastor Tim Keller, he says, "For the one who suffers, the Christian faith provides as a resource, not just it's teaching on the cross, but also the fact of the resurrection. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired, but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater." The word of God is saying, do not lose heart, the plans of God will be revealed. Write it down, take a picture, do not lose heart, God's purpose will be realized.

George Wright: 35:09 Romans 8:28, the verse that we put on coffee mugs, and the verse that we want to quote when we've had a bad day, it's such a beautiful gift. It says, "We know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Nowhere is this more explicitly clear than at the cross, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Think about this through the lens of Habakkuk. When I think about the cross, and I think about what Jesus endured at the cross, I often try to think of the cross through the perspective of the disciples. Imagine what they must have been experiencing. They've gone from the highest mountaintop of walking with Jesus and seeing him perform miracles and hearing him speak with an authority that no one had heard before him, and then they begin to do miracles themselves out of his power, the disciples are doing miracles. It's amazing, the crowds are gathering and even though he told them this would happen, they never saw it coming. And he's arrested after his betrayal, taken away and beaten, tortured, ultimately hung on a cross to die. And the disciples must be thinking, how in the world did it get to this? What appears to be the worst possible outcome for the people of God, is actually God at work showing his greatest act of love. And this side of the cross we recognize, and we see, and we celebrate that the cross is not the end of the story. What looked like a horrific scenario for the people of God, was actually God working all things together for good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose, because the tomb is empty.

George Wright: 37:29 Jesus Christ rose from the grave, defeating sin and death. What the enemy sought to use for evil, God was using for good. What appeared to be hopeless, was God demonstrating that which is our only true hope. What appeared to be dark and evil winning the day, was in fact the love of God, and the grace of God in its most beautiful display. There is no possible way that 600 years before the cross of Christ, Habakkuk could have understood what God was saying to him when God said to him, I am doing something in your time that you would not believe if I told you. I am doing something right now, as this struggle invites my people to repent and to return to me, that will ultimately lead them to the place of understanding my love and my grace through the gift of salvation that comes only through my son. Habakkuk, you can't see it now, but my plan, my plan is perfect. My plan is good. My plan will be ultimately revealed. Trust me, the righteous shall live by faith.

George Wright: 39:12 So the question we close with this morning is, will that be our story? When we walk through struggle, and we walk through difficulty, will it be said of us that the righteous live by faith? Will it be said of us, that we believe God is in control, even when it appears that everything is out of control. Will it be said of us, that we can trust our God, because he is big enough to handle our questions and our honest prayers? Our suffering is not in vain. God is at work, using all things for the good of his people who love him, and are called according to his purpose. Will we trust him in faith?

George Wright: 40:12 Some of you I recognize here today as we close, have never experienced the goodness of God's provision in your life, you've never experienced what it means to live by faith. Because you've never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We want you to know that God, in his love and in his grace, is pursuing you even now. And we invite you to trust your life to Christ. For those of you who are struggling on this father's day, who are walking through a difficult season. As I close today, I just want to pray over you, that God would use this struggle to reveal his love in ways that you've never seen before. The righteous shall live by faith, trust that you have a good and perfect heavenly father, who is at work in the midst of your story even if you don't understand it. His plan will be revealed for his glory, and for your good. Let's look to him now, as we acknowledge our need for the savior.

George Wright: 41:21 Let's pray. Father God, I'm grateful for your love, and grateful for your grace. So as we turn our attention to a passage of scripture that seems to be relatively obscure, how grateful I am that your word is so relevant. it speaks to what we walk through today. That it's living, it is active, inspired by you to bring about life, to reveal what is good and true. And so I pray, Lord God, that we would take your word from Habakkuk today, that we would hold it in our heart, that it would grow roots down deep in our faith, and that we would live by faith even when the days are dark. I pray, Lord God, that we would trust you, believing that you are doing a work among us even when we don't understand and even when we can't see it. The righteous live by faith, give us the faith to follow you. So I pray specifically for those in a difficult season today, Lord, give them strength. Let them see, let them know, your love and your grace over them as they come before you with their honest prayers, with their painful prayers. I pray Lord God, that they would recognize their prayers are not falling on deaf ears, but you are at work to do even greater things. So Lord, please strengthen their faith, strengthen their resolve, to trust in you the unwavering rock on which we stand. And father, I pray as I close for those among us or those joining us online, who have never experienced the gift of a personal relationship with you. I pray, Lord God, that they would recognize the hope that has been granted to us through Jesus Christ our Lord, the hope that is given to all who trust in him as savior and Lord. I pray that today would be the day that they would say, Jesus, I'm ready to follow you in faith. I know it's not always going to be easy, but I recognize my need for you, so I'm trusting my life to you. Thank you Jesus, for your forgiveness, and for your grace. We pray, Lord God, that you would empower us, as we seek to live by faith, to be a picture of your love to the world around us for your glory and for our joy. It's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206