Building a Strong Church

Prof. Richard Pratt | Sunday, April 30, 2000
Copyright © 2000, Prof. Richard Pratt

Edited transcript of message given at Grace Valley Christian Center Sunday morning, April 30, 2000

Would you please turn in your Bibles with me to the book of 2 Chronicles? Now, it's not Corinthians. It is Old Testament-2 Chronicles. I know it is your favorite book in the Bible, so I'll give you a second to find it, since it has such well-worn pages. 2 Chronicles chapter 30.

Second Chronicles chapter 30 is a wonderful passage, but it is a part of the Bible which we don't know all that well. So before I read to you from the word of God, let me tell you what is happening. There was a king whose name was Hezekiah, and he was desirous of building the kingdom of God in his day to be strong and mighty for the cause of his God. In this chapter we learn how he did that. He decided to do it by calling all the tribes of Israel to come to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. So we are reading now from the word of God where we hear about why Hezekiah did this and how he did it, so that we may learn how to build the kingdom of God strong today.

Hear now the word of God:

Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month. They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. The plan seemed right both to the king and to the whole assembly. They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. It had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written.

May God add his rich blessing to the reading of his word.

Let us pray together: Our Lord Jesus, we come to you now asking you to speak to us. We pray that you will send your Spirit to us to make these words written so long ago about things which happened so long ago speak to our day and to our lives. We ask you to open our eyes that we may see. We ask you to unstop our ears that we may hear your voice. We pray you soften our hearts that we may love you and that we may serve you more faithfully because of this portion of your word. Amen.

I can remember a number of years ago when I lived in New England. And when I was in New England we would sometimes on Sunday afternoons go out and take walks through the woods. This was especially true in the autumn, because in the fall it is unbelievably beautiful in New England. If you've ever been there at that time of year, you know exactly what I am talking about.

So we are out in the woods, a friend of mine and I, walking around, looking up at the trees. And all of a sudden I fell flat on my face-¯I mean, all the way down to the ground. Now, I am a little clumsy and so I stumble a bit, but usually I catch myself. But this time it was all the way down, and so I looked for an excuse, some kind of reason why I fell, and there it was. There was a big stone in the middle of the path. I said, "Well, who put that stone here, anyway? What a crazy thing to do. It made me fall down, I could have hurt myself. . .." You know, on and on I went.

Now, my friend was one of these know-it-all friends. Do you have any of those? The kind who know every bit of trivia in the world? He had been telling me why this tree turned red and that one turned yellow, and why that one was gray, and so on. Now he had an explanation for the stone too. He said, "Take a look." I said, "What?" He said, "It's not alone," and he was right. That stone was surrounded by several others. In fact, the stones sort of stretched across the path. And he asked, "You know what this was?" I said, "No. What?" So he explained, "This is an old colonial wall." And I looked, and you know, you could tell that there were one or two stones on top of each other going that direction and going that direction. You may not know this, but back in the colonial days when they would clear the fields in New England, a person couldn't dig but a couple of inches before he would run into a rock. So they would take those rocks and just throw them to the edge of the field where they would form ready-made walls to keep the wildlife out, to sort of separate the crops, and things like that. Apparently we had come across one of those walls, so we decided to go exploring.

And we did. We followed that trail of stones through the woods, and it just made a straight line, two or three on top of each others, sometimes maybe one, a few gaps here or there. But basically we could tell it was a trail. Finally, we came to a big clearing, and off in the distance there was a farmhouse. Around the farmhouse was an old farm, and around that farmhouse was a wall.

Now, that wall stood maybe two or three meters high. So my know-it-all friend said, "Hey, do you know what the difference is between the wall around the house and out here?" I said, "No. What?" He said, "Well, in the old days, they would go out and get the best stones, sometimes even carve them off, chop them off, and then lay them on top of each other. And they would use mortar to hold the stones together around the house." I guess he was right, because there it was-¯a tall wall lined up with the rocks that we had been following. It was standing tall, while the ones out in the forest were barely on top of each other anymore.

I guess there is a lesson to be learned in that. What is it? That if you want a wall to stand strong, you need to have good stones and some kind of mortar to hold those stones together. If you want your wall to last and be strong, you must have good stones and mortar.

Every one of us is here trying to build a wall. In fact, we are trying to build several walls, just like this man Hezekiah was trying to build a wall. This wall was the kingdom of God, and to build that wall strong, Hezekiah chose certain kinds of stones to be in his wall. Additionally, he chose a mortar to hold those stones together.

Did you know you are building walls? Let me tell you what they are: they are your personal life as a Christian. You are trying to build a wall, a kingdom-¯your life. You are doing it in your family with your husband or your wife and your children. You are also doing it right here in this local church. Additionally, you are doing it in the world, with the kingdom of God spreading everywhere in this world. We are all trying to build the wall of the kingdom of God just like Hezekiah was in his day. Maybe, if we see the kinds of stones he used, the kind of mortar he used to hold those stones together, maybe we can see how Jesus wants us to build the kingdoms of our lives and our families and our local church here and the kingdom of God all over the world.

Let's look and see what kinds of stones Hezekiah used. I want to tell you the first stone that he used in his wall-¯it's a strange thing to say in this day and time because most people don't even believe this kind of stone exists, but let me tell you what it was: it was a commitment to truth. Truth.

Hezekiah was doing something very strange for a king to do. Let's face it, if you were going to try to make a strong nation, what would be the first thing you would do? I think the first thing you would do is make an army. That would only make sense. You've got to have defense. You've got to have some kind of mechanism to protect yourself. And probably the next thing you would do is to have a strong economy. And if you ever got around to it, you might want to have a worship service or something.

Well, Hezekiah thought just the opposite. He decided, "I want to make the kingdom of God strong, so the first thing I need to do is to have Passover, the Lord's Supper." That wouldn't be the first thing that would come to your mind, would it? It would not be the first thing that would come to my mind either. But Hezekiah believed that what he needed in order to have a strong kingdom of God was the worship of God.

Why in the world would he think a thing like that? I mean, what in the world would move a person to think that way? Was he just smart? Was he just religious? What was it? Well, we find out why in verse 5. Look at the end of verse 5: "It had not be celebrated in large numbers" - that's the Passover - "according to what was written."

According to what was written! That's an Old Testament way of saying it hadn't been celebrated according to what the Scriptures teach. You will find the theme all through this chapter that what motivated Hezekiah to do what he decided to do was he reevaluated what the Bible says. And on the basis of what Scripture said, he decided to make a choice that seemed absolutely ridiculous to everybody who had any common sense.

Now, I am sure that all of us would say that we love the Bible. We've got so many Bibles that we don't know what to do with them. Probably if you left your Bible at church you wouldn't even miss it, because you have half a dozen more at home. Right? So we've got Bibles coming out of our ears. We say, "Oh, we're committed to the Bible, committed to the Bible, committed to the Bible." But do you know how easy it is for even people like you and me who have a strong commitment to the Bible to substitute a Styrofoam plastic stone in the wall where the Bible is supposed to be? Let me tell you what some of those plastic Styrofoam stones are. I want to tell you two big ones that face a church.

The first big Styrofoam piece that you can stick into your wall is this: not doing things according to what is written, but doing things that are different and new. That's a good one. If there is anything that is true about church, if there is anything that can be said about most churches in this world, when you go there, they are pretty much predictable. You can pretty much be sure of what is going to happen next, and you can think, "Well, that is the way we've been doing it." And so if you want to put life into a church, if you want to make a church really exciting, if you want to make it grow and become strong, the first thing that starts coming to people's minds is this: Let's do something new.

I want to tell you that Hezekiah's idea was not a plastic stone. The idea of celebrating Passover went way back, all the way back to Moses. So Hezekiah wasn't interested in "Let's do something new." That wasn't his idea. His commitment was "Let's do something according to what was written."

Do you want to know what to do with your life? Do you want to know what to do with your family? Do you want to know what to do in this church? Do you want to know what to do in the kingdom of God throughout this world? It begins with a commitment, not to doing new things, as good as they may be sometimes, but with a commitment to doing what is written.

But that is not the only plastic stone we try to put in. What is the other one? We may say, "Let's not do things new. Instead, let's do things the way we've always done them." There you go. You see, the reality is that what happens in churches and what happens in families and what happens even in your own personal life is that you get certain patterns that happen and you sort of like those patterns. You become very comfortable with them, and so you figure, "Well, if you want the place to be strong, you want a strong kingdom, what you need to do is to do the tried and sure. This is the way we've always done it. It is the way my mother did it, it is the way my grandmother did it, and so we are going to do it that way. Just be quiet over there."

Let me ask the sisters here something. When your man is driving a car-¯and I don't care whether it is your boyfriend, your husband, your father, your brother, your friend-¯when he is driving a car and he gets lost, is the first thing that comes to his mind, "Let's ask for directions"? Is that the first thing that comes to his mind? Of course not! I don't know what it is about men, but it is true all over this world. I, in fact, I have asked that question on practically every continent of this world, and the answer is always the same: Are you crazy? You know what men do. They wrap their fingers around that steering wheel and they say, "Yes, I know that was a gas station. Yes, I know that was an exit. Yes, I saw the next one is in thirty miles. No, put the map away. I can get us there." And it doesn't matter if they go two hundred miles out of the way, they know how to get there.

Now, there is something about men that just sort of makes us hesitant to admit that we don't know where we are going and that we need new directions. Now, friends, if that is what we do when we drive a car, what do you think when we drive a family or when we drive a church? So the natural tendency-¯let's just do it the way we've done it. That's good enough. Let's keep it going.

What would have happened in Hezekiah's day if he had this second plastic stone in his wall? The Passover had not been celebrated in large numbers for generations. His mama, his grandmama, his great-grandmama-¯none of them had done it. He could have just said, "Well, it was good enough for them, so it is good enough for me." But he said, "No, we must do it according to what was written."

The mark of a true church is that it constantly reevaluates what it is doing according to the word of our God. Some of you like your church a lot. You like the way it is today-¯a lot. That's why you are here. But I want to tell you something: If a church is going to continue to be strong, it must hold firmly to the stone of commitment to the truth of the word of God. That means constantly reevaluation, asking, "Are we doing it the way God wants us to do it?" And when you and your leaders decide, "We've missed the mark. God wants us to go this other direction, according to his word," then you go in that direction.

A commitment to truth in a world which says there is no truth, in a world which says the Bible is irrelevant, is a commitment that each of us must make in our personal lives, in our family lives, in our church life. It is the only hope we have for a strong kingdom.

Now, strange as it may sound, this is not the only stone Hezekiah had. Hezekiah did not only have the stone of commitment to truth in his wall. He had another stone, and it is going to sound bizarre when I say it, but hold onto your hats: Hezekiah had a second stone, which was a commitment to the unity of the people of God. Not just a commitment to truth, but a commitment to the unity of the people of God.

Do you know how we see that in this passage? You can see that in the very opening verse. Look at chapter 30, verse 1. It says, "Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover." To understand the significance of that verse, you have to remember the geography of the land. Places like Israel, Ephraim, and Manasseh were way up north. We are talking Vancouver. We're talking Seattle-¯those kinds of places. And Jerusalem was way down south. We're talking San Diego now.

So here was Hezekiah writing letters to people, inviting them to come to San Diego and celebrate the Lord's Supper. But he sent those letters not just to places like Escondido and a few of the places around San Diego. He sent them all the way to Seattle and says, "You guys come down here and celebrate Passover." He sent them up to Vancouver and said, "You come down and celebrate Passover." Do you see how committed Hezekiah was to the unity of the people of God? He didn't just invite his cronies. He invited people he knew would laugh and mock him for thinking of such a thing as this.

Let me ask you: When you have a party, whom do you invite? Do you invite people who you know are going to laugh at the thought of coming to your house? Of course not! You invite people who you think will come and will want to come and will appreciate being invited to your house. Those are the people you ask to come.

But not Hezekiah. Hezekiah went far out there, inviting people who spoke differently than he did, who thought differently than he did, who looked differently than he did, who had different priorities than he did, knowing that they would even reject him (and most of them did, by the way. Only a few came). But he still invited them, because he knew that for the kingdom of God to be strong, it must include all the people of God.

Do you want to know the tension that Hezekiah had in his heart on that day? I can tell you how to get that experience. When this church service is over, instead of going to your friends-¯you know, the ones you are going to have lunch with and things like that-¯instead of going up and shaking their hands, I want to ask you to do something a little bit different. I want you to look around and find someone in this room who doesn't like you very much. Ignore your friends-¯ignore all those people you just love dearly and haven't seen for a week-¯and go straight for that other person and spend the afternoon with him or her. Now you know what Hezekiah was experiencing.

But if we are to have a commitment to truth and unity the way Hezekiah did, that is exactly the kind of thing we will do. If this church does its job and reaches out to the lost the way it ought to be doing, you will have people coming to this church who will be strange and won't fit in here. It is very natural and normal for us to think in terms of reaching out to people who are like us-¯people who will fit in, people who will say, "Yeah, I'd like to come to that church." But the reality is, if we follow Hezekiah's example, we will reach out to people who are not likely to come.

Just how strongly are you committed to the unity of the people of God? I am convinced that the greatest satanic trick, the greatest trick Satan plays on the church of Jesus Christ today is that he makes us think that we have to choose between a commitment to truth and a commitment to unity. He tells us it is like trying to put the negative poles of magnets together. You know how that works? You get them together but they pop away, and you get them together but they pop away. We think we have to choose between a love for the word of God and a love for people, but that is a satanic idea. It is not the way Jesus thought.

I want you to look with me at the New Testament, at John chapter 17. In this passage, the great high priestly prayer of Jesus, Jesus showed his commitment, which should be ours, both to the truth of God and to the unity of the people of God. Listen to the way Jesus prayed for us, beginning in verse 17. This is the passage that you know so very well.

In John 17:17 Jesus prays, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." Jesus was committed to the word of God. He knew it was important. He knew his kingdom could not be strong without the truth of God. "Sanctify them by the truth." But now, hear what Jesus said in practically the very same breath in verse 20: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

Did you hear what Jesus said? He said the world will come to know him and believe that he was sent by the Father when they look at you and me and see that we are one.

Notice what he doesn't say: "Lord, the world will sit up and take notice and believe that you are sent by the Father if they have great doctrine." That's not what he said. "Lord, the world will sit up and take notice if they have great buildings." That's not what he said. ". . . if they have great programs." Nope, it is not what they said. ". . . . if they have a lot of energy, a lot of spirituality." Nope, that is also not what he said. What he said was that the world will sit up and take notice and know that God the Father has sent Jesus his Son when they look at you and me and see we are one.

Is there any question that the world might look at us and think that Jesus couldn't possibly be Messiah? For this church to be strong, it must reject the satanic trick of choosing between a love for truth and a love for unity. It must hold these together, because we need both stones if the kingdom of God is going to be strong.

Well, if these things are so hard to hold together, how do we do it? How in the world does Jesus expect us to love truth and unity, the peace of the church, as well?

When I took my ordination vows, we had this line that we give to ministers. What it says is that you must be committed to two things: the purity of the church and the peace of the church. The purity and the peace of the church. That's a commitment to truth and a commitment to unity. How do you ever hold those things together?

Well, I think we can learn from Hezekiah's example, because he did it. He had a commitment to truth and a commitment held them together, but how did he do it? Well, he had this special mortar that he used to hold those stones together. But that mortar had a remarkable recipe. I want to point out three ingredients in this recipe for his mortar that he had. These will be ingredients that you and I need to have in our lives also. If we do, we'll be able to hold these two commitments together.

What was the first ingredient in Hezekiah's mortar? Patience. Did you notice when we read a few moments ago that Hezekiah decided to do something that was a little bit odd? Look at verse 2: "The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month." The second month! When was Passover supposed to be celebrated? The first month! Why did he do this? "They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. The plan seemed right both to the king and to the whole assembly."

Patience was the first ingredient. The problem was that all the people from Seattle couldn't get down in time. Too short notice. "We were just not ready to come yet. We can't make it. It's too far," they said. And so Hezekiah decided, "We have to be patient with those people."

Now, patience is very different from compromise. To compromise the truth means you don't care about truth anymore. Patience means we care about truth but we are going to get there together. We are going to be moving in that direction and we are going to be patient with each other as we fail and as we move forward.

It is an amazing thing. As a seminary professor, many times I am terribly impatient with students. I am not proud of this. I've been working on this thing called theology for almost twenty-five years full-time. I mean, full-time, flat out, haven't done anything but this for about twenty-five years. So you can imagine I've got a long list of things I believe. Right? I have had twenty-five years to figure out what I believe and it is a pretty long list. And at the beginning of each school year I give my students about three weeks to believe that long list of things I believe, or they're out. That is not patience.

Do you see yourself here? If you have been a Christian for very long, your list of what you believe will be pretty long too. And you probably know how easy it is to look at other people who come here, maybe people who don't know the difference between a vulgar word and an acceptable word, or people who don't know how to dress to come to church or when to stand up and when to sit down, and say, "Good. I sure am glad to have an overhead because I can't figure out why they are skipping lines in this hymnal"-¯the kind of people who just have never been to a church before. Then you realize how much patience you need to exercise when you have people like that around you.

What normally happens in a church? Usually when visitors come to a church, they end up having to be patient with the people who are already here. We may say, "I don't know why their kids aren't like my kids. I don't know why their kids are running around during the worship service. I don't know why they didn't make it to that meeting. They surely should have. It was in the bulletin. They should have known it was there." On and on the list goes as we start laying it on the visitors, because we expect them to be patient with all the things that we have learned, when, in reality, we need to be patient with them. It's the role of the wise and the strong to be patient with those who don't know and those who are weak.

Do you want to hold truth and unity together? Patience is the key. But that is not all Hezekiah did. Hezekiah did another absolutely wonderful thing. Not only did he have patience, but he also had a sense of priority. He knew that some things were more important than other things.

Have you ever met people who don't know that? Especially when it comes to their Christian faith, they've got this list of things they believe in. It's almost as if everything they believe is right up at the top of the list. They are so dogmatic about everything they believe that you can hardly believe it. I know people who believe just as strongly in the resurrection of Jesus as in the idea that men should not have earrings. It is clear to them. They quote verses to you and insist, "Isn't it obvious that Jesus resurrected from the dead and that men should not have earrings?" They can tell you right down to the inch how long a woman's skirt should be. They can tell you exactly how long a man's hair should be. "After all," they will say, "we're Christians and we believe things." That is why priorities are so important. Let me tell you what happened to me in a church one time. I was sitting up on the podium with the pastor before the service, and there was no one else in the room except the pastor's family, maybe one elder's family and a woman, probably the pastor's wife, playing the organ. When the music was almost finished, I noticed that in the back of the church there was a large group of people in the hallway behind some glass which separated us from them. They were all milling around and talking to each other but not coming in, so I leaned over to the pastor and asked, "When are those people coming in?" He said, "They can't." I said, "What?" He said, "They can't. The elders decided to lock the doors at eleven o'clock this week." I said, "What?" "We decided to lock the doors because people keep coming in late."

I don't know how long that pastor lasted, and I won't tell you, even if you torture me, what church it was. But do you get a sense of the disproportionality that was there? These people were more concerned that people come on time than that they come.

Now, friends, if you have been married for more than a week, you know that some things are worth fighting for and some things are flat out not worth it. That is the way it is in the church too. We have to figure out among ourselves what is at the top of the list, what is in the middle of the list, and what is way down on the list as to importance. If you do that, you can manage this thing of truth and unity together.

So Hezekiah had the stones of truth and unity, and mortar to hold them together. One ingredient of that mortar was patience and another was priorities. But there was a third thing Hezekiah did, which we find this chapter. All those people from Seattle and Vancouver had come down, but do you know what? They had been separated from the people of God for so long that they forgot how to go through the washing rituals. They partook of the Passover without washing. They were unclean. As a result they started becoming sick, one after another after another after another. This was ruining Hezekiah's Passover celebration. It was going great until those people from the north started getting sick. Now it was all ruined.

Now, if you and I had been Hezekiah, what would we have done? Put those people on the bus and gotten them out of there! They were messing up the whole church program. But that is not what Hezekiah did. Here he demonstrated the third ingredient in his mortar. In verse 18 we read, "Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh" -¯that's Vancouver and Seattle-¯"Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written." But now, listen to what Hezekiah said. "But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.' And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people."

What was the third ingredient in Hezekiah's mortar? Prayer. Do you know how easy it is to fight with other Christians? It is extremely easy. But do you know how hard it is to fight after you have worn your knees out praying together, how difficult it is to argue and fight and bicker when you have been kneeling before God together?

Let me give you an example of this. Try this in your own family at some point. Maybe you and your wife are really having a hard time right now. Maybe you and your husband are having a hard time. Maybe you and your children are having a hard time. Try to let the hard times fizzle out just a little bit before you try this remedy here, okay? Try to let things calm down a little bit. But then, instead of approaching the argument again, instead of reviving the debate, try to spend some time together praying. I don't mean that you pray, "O Lord, please change her," or "Lord, change him." That's not what I mean. I'm talking about praying together in the praise and the honor of your Savior. I am speaking about praying for peace, patience, and kindness toward each other. Try doing that for a little while, and then get up and discuss the problem. You will be shocked at the difference such prayer makes.

I have been to many churches and seen them go through change. Some have gone from one end of the spectrum to the other end. Do you know what usually happens in those kinds of churches that go through change? It's remarkable. They go through what we lovingly call a "Scottish revival." Now, a Scottish revival is where you take a church of 500 down to fifty. In the name of purity, okay? In the name of holiness, in the name of truth.

But I have seen two churches which have gone through those kinds of changes and haven't gone down to the fifty. Instead, they have grown numerically. So I asked them, "What did you do? How'd you do it?" Strangely, they both gave me the same answer. In so many words, this is what they said to me: "As elders and as deacons, we decided we were not going to push our people through the change. We just were not going to. We also decided we were not even going to preach our people through the change." These church leaders committed themselves to pray their church through the changes. And they both said the same thing, "The most remarkable thing happened. The change came from the congregation. We did not have to even say anything. Before we knew it, people wanted the things that we wanted our church to have." This happened because the leaders of the church committed themselves to prayer.

I have said that the mortar which can hold truth and unity together is patience, priorities, and prayer. Now I challenge you to think about your Lord Jesus and his commitment to truth and unity. Think about how patient your Jesus has been toward you. Could you possibly make it if he were not so patient with you? Of course not! That is why you must be patient with others, tenderhearted, and forgiving each other as well. And think about your Lord Jesus and his priorities in life. Suppose he looked at all those little details of your life, where you are messed up and are still not doing the right thing, the way you look at each other. But he doesn't do that. Jesus Christ looks at our hearts: that is his top priority. He wants our lives to reflect him, but he is ever so much into this thing called "some things are more important than others." And then keep in mind your Lord Jesus, who prays for you every day.

Hezekiah knew that to have a strong kingdom, he needed a wall that would stand up, just like my friend's. It had to have good stones-¯the stone of commitment to truth. A church must never lose its love for truth. But a church also must have a commitment to unity-¯not letting it happen naturally, but a commitment to it. How can that be achieved? With the mortar of patience, the mortar of priorities, and the mortar of prayer.

I want to see a church that has kept its commitment to truth, kept its commitment to unity, and has held those things together by patience, priorities and prayer. Such a church will do unbelievable things. God will be honored and the people will be built up.

Let's pray together: Our Lord Jesus, we bow before you, the King of heaven and earth. We are your people. We have heard this call of commitment to truth, and we say, "Lord, we're there with you on that. We love the Bible. We love the truth." We've heard this call to unity among the people of God and we say, "Lord, yeah, it's true. We're there." Teach us, Lord, from this man Hezekiah's life and from your own life. Teach us, Lord, how to have this mortar of patience. Move in us with that fruit of the Spirit. Lord, teach us how to have priorities, the wisdom of priorities. Lord Jesus, please make us a people who pray. And as you do that, Lord, we promise you and we pledge to you our praise and our adoration for building your kingdom strong in this world. Amen.

Copyright © 2000, Prof. Richard Pratt

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (1984 version). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The "NIV" and "New International Version" are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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