Jeremiah, Chapter 29, one of my favorite passages in Scripture, sort of a theme of my life as I think of the Lord that I am serving, and what I can expect from that God, what I can expect from the Christianity that I engaged in and that I practice, my understanding of God and of the kingdom that I inhabit, and what I can expect about the future as well, each of you. This message is for you, as you look towards the future, what can you expect from God?
Jeremiah, chapter 29. I’ll read, you know, up to a point and ….. let my words be few. That’s one of the few expressions that preachers cannot really say with sincerity. ‘Let my words be few’.
Jeremiah, 29. This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles. So he’s writing to exiles, people who are in exile and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadneezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. I won’t bore you with that explanation there.
Let’s go to verse 3: “He entrusted the letter to Elasah, son of Shaphan, and to Gemariah, -these names are so much easy to pronounce in Spanish- son of Hilkiah –I probably am butchering all of them- whom Zedekiah, king of Judah sent to king Nebuchadneezzar in Babylon. It said: ‘this is what the Lord all mighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters, increase in number there. Do not decrease. Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers you too will prosper. Yes, this is what the Lord all might, the God of Israel says. Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have, they are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them, declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says. When seventy are completed for Babylon I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place, for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope in the future. Then, you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have vanished you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Praise the Lord.
I like this text because it combines so many of the subtle flavors of God’s character and ways of dealing with us. It’s like those Thai dishes that have combinations that are very weird to the Latino taste; ginger, saffron, cumin. We have a cook here. You like to cook? And something sweet and sour. You know, for us Latinos, either something is either salty or sweet but these weird combinations, I mean, ginger is for chocolate, not for food and so on. But, you know, in his character combines all these strange tastes, he combines mercy and justice; wrath and grace; love and judgment; you know all these different mutually exclusive, as we tend to see them, qualities in his character.
And then, you know, it’s like when you do these drawings in chalk or in carbon that you take a pen in our thumb and you see an artist and they kind of rub it to get it texture. It takes all these strong flavors of his personality and then rubs on them to merge them all together. And I see that in this text here. Just the subtle flavors of God’s personality and the subtle ways in this deals with us as he projects that personality on to us in his dealings with us. So that, I think, is portrait in this text very well.
As I say that I get into one of my pep peeves, but maybe I should leave it for later on, which is our tendency to over simplify God and to over simplify Jesus Christ. It is something that has become kind of strong peeve of mine in this time. When I see the character of Jesus and the character of God being so over simplified and impoverished by a generation that loves to lash on to the favorite side of God that they see, rather than looking at the totality of what God is.
So I see these days, even in evangelicalism, I see it a lot in liberal Christianity and certainly I see it in those that don’t even read the Bible but love to hear some verses and some things and they repeat is like the parrot, not having read the entire scripture, and seing the complexity of God’s character of Jesus’ character.
So, we tend to lash on to God’s mercy and grace and love, and you know, everything is love and tolerance and patience. We resent the church when the church speaks truth to the culture, and we say ‘no, there’s also holiness, there’s also justice, there’s also law and obedience that God expects from us’.
So, we should never over simplify God, we should never impoverish God’s complex character and his ways of dealing with us that sometimes can seem mutually contradictory. That God who one moment smacks us in the back of our head, you can see him the next moment leaning down and kissing us and taking us into his arms as we weep because it hurt. I mean, that’s the God that I see in scripture, the God that I serve, the God that fills me with a sense of huge respect and awe at the complexity of his character. And I do not like to fool with him because I see how sinister he can be, when I fool with him or when anybody else fools with him.
But here I see that, where do I see that in this chapter? Well, I see it in the fact that the Jews are in exile and this is a letter, it says here, that God sent from Jerusalem through his prophet Jeremiah, who is in Jerusalem, to the people who are in exile in Babylon. Why are the Jews in exile? Because they have been naughty. They have been disobedient. They have been naughty for about several hundred years and God’s patience finally had it and he did what he had told them for hundreds of years that he was going to do.
He had sent prophets to them, he had given them partial punishments, he had sent armies to oppress them and discipline them. And when they cried out to him, he had forgiven them time and time again. And he said, ‘one day if you keep doing this of serving idols and being oppressive to the poor and letting injustice dwell in the land, and having idolatry reign over the spiritual realm, in my land ….. I will take away the thing that you love the most, which is this land that I have given you and that is the essence of my dealing with you and that is so much a theme of your worship. When I took you out of Egypt I gave you this land and on, and on, and on….. I will take that most precious thing from you. And finally God did it and I will send you into exile. And God did that too. And so God has executed his punishment, because God is a God of righteousness.
I mean, he’s a God of mercy and of patience, but he will deliver justice and we must be very careful in our lives about that. Never lose sight of the fact that God is a God of order, he’s a God of principles and he does not forget. Actually, he’s so efficient with the use of his principles, that rather than have to apply them personally every time that somebody violates them, what he does is that he structures it into the very fabric of reality, of time and space and he, like a good executive, you know, chief executive officer, what he did was simply integrated it into the universe, so that as we move in time and space we cannot escape them, because they’re everywhere.
So when we violate them we come against laws that are written in our genes, in our biology, in the very structure of the universe, and that’s how thorough God is. The eastern philosophers understood that and called it ‘karma’: that everything you do or don’t do has consequences, it sends some vibrations.
You know, it is that powerful sense of the prevalence of God’s law and principles. He has structured the universe according to them. We cannot violate them. We must obey them and as we obey them we are prospered. If we don’t obey them, then all kind of reverberations, negative consequences are sent loose and God doesn’t really have to worry about it. His word has been declared and it judges us.
And so, when the Jews violated God’s law and finally said: ‘I’ve had it’, he sent Nebuchadneezzar, he sent the Syrians before that and he destroyed the lifestyle of the Jews and sent them away. So here are the Jews in Babylon reaping the consequences of their extreme disobedience and there’s a………., impoverished and still rebellious back in Jerusalem, you know, waiting also for judgment as well, that’s going to come even further. And Jeremiah was a prophet that had been called to prophesize to this ……….in Jerusalem, in Judah. And so God sends a prophetic word to those who have already reaped the consequences: the Israelites, the northern tribes, to Babylon and sends this letter to them and I just read you the essence or part of if, about one half of the content, but the most important particular of that letter that he sends to the exiled people in Babylon, who are suffering his judgment and his punishment.
And I imagine by the content of the letter that these exiled Jews were depressed, feeling guilty, realizing what they had done, finally; repentant because they realized that that’s why they were there because God had told them ‘this is going to happen to you’. God had given them every chance to repent and to change their destiny. They hadn’t and now there they are, and they have lost the land, they have lost loved ones, they have lost their lifestyle, they have lost their future, they have lost their dreams, everything they have lost because of their own foolishness.
And God seeing all of that, and having executed justice and punishment sends this message through his prophet Jeremiah, I call it a love letter, sent to them in Babylon and that’s what he says to them. That’s the other flavor in God’s complex personality.
But the funny thing is that both dimensions: punishment and grace and promise and hope, are mixed simultaneously in this situation, because God doesn’t say to them ‘guys, you know what? Yeah, you messed up but you know, you’ll have another chance….. Come back. I’m going to make things ok and I’m going to bring you back to Israel and reestablish you in the land…. And, ok I was in a bad mood when I did that, but I’m going to give you one more chance’.
He doesn’t say that. No, he says ‘you guys messed up and you know I said I was going to do something to you, I was going to spank you very hard and I’m going to do it and you know, you’re here and you’ll have to stay there’.
So, he’s not removing the punishment, but he is penetrating it with grace and hope and a call to blessing, even as they reap the punishment. And that’s what I find fascinating about this. It’s the mixture of both. The context speaks of judgment but the words speak of love and grace and of hope for the future, and everything is mixed in there.
And it just teaches me about the beautiful heart of God, that’s why I love him so much. It’s not love, I mean, it’s awe and it’s fear. It’s a different feeling that you know, that’s what makes it so beautiful and so sweet, because the sinister and the joyous are mixed in how we see God and how he is. And that’s the way it should be with us. That’s the way we should relate to God. The way I think, we would look at a beautiful tiger through a cage: we love his power, his muscles, the terrible beauty that emanates from him, but we know that if we put our hand through that cage, we’ll have it torn into pieces. And that’s what makes that tiger so fascinatingly beautiful, instead of a kitten that evokes just tenderness from us. But this tiger is a mixture of…… that’s the way I see God. He’s sinister and he can be ugly even, but he’s beautiful and majestic at the same time.
So, he sends the letter and the prophesy to those people in exile who are depressed. You see, they’re thinking ‘there’s no hope for us. God doesn’t care about us any more. He has forgotten about us and we deserve this, we’re depressed.’ They’re so depressed that they don’t want to do anything except die. They don’t even want to have sex, can you imagine? That’s what it says here, because it says ‘marry, have children, and on and on and on….’ and that’s what happens with depressed people, they don’t sleep, they lose their libido, they stop doing things, they stop bathing, they go into a dark place, they lose the zeal for life and motivation, they don’t want to have parties, they don’t want to listen to good music.
So God is concerned about them. See the love in…… it’s when you punish your child for having done something really bad and your heart is breaking because you see him crying inside the room where you sent him and you want to go in there and say ‘it’s ok, forget about it and come back out and watch TV’, but you know that you also have to respect yourself and that you’re investing for the future and his character. So you have to refrain yourself and your love. And you know that’s the kind of thing that’s happening here.
The fatherly love of God which is also a judge dimension are struggling to find manifestation and so…. To these people that are expecting woe, destruction, negativity, that have lost all hope, God sends this ray of love and of light that shines on them there in Babylon and this is what he says to them.
And I’m speaking to you and to myself now because you know, when we come into the Kingdom of God many of us, we have this old recording playing in our psyche about how it was before we came into the kingdom, and we think it’s going to be more of the same. Yeah, and now we’re saved and we have a passport to heaven, but here on earth it’s still going to be the same sorry life that we have been living: injustice, oppression, bad people, people who don’t love you, on and on, and on, don’t care. And God says ‘what are your expectations?’
You know, I have found, I’ve been preaching at church about this lady that what you expect so crucial in determining what you’ll get in life, and the way we perceive Christianity and the way we perceive God’s intentions for our lives, will determine to a certain degree, what we undertake, what we dare to expect about life, the efforts that we make in life to study or to buy a house or whatever. And many of us have this negative understanding of who God is and we always see Christianity as a list of duties, don’ts, don’t dos or you know, exhausting and require a lot of effort and what I see is that the essence of what God wants: he wants to give us good things.
Jesus has said that he came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. To me that’s what makes Christianity worthwhile, I mean, among other things. It’s the fact that when I follow God’s plan my life becomes fulfilling, it becomes exciting and that’s what triggered my change of message tonight.
Because as I heard you guys, I heard God doing wonderful things in your life, wonderful things in the community. I see the potential in this group right here, with God doing things in your lives, and I said ‘man, it’s so beautiful to be a particular of the Kingdom of God; as I see my own Latino community, I see the same thing. I see people being transformed, I see families being redeemed, I see people learning English and buying houses and getting promoted in jobs, kids catching a vision for life that could be right now destroying their life. I see and institution growing and developing and I see the huge potential in the future.
I have not seen anything yet in all the years that I’ve been serving the Lord to change this basic thought in my life that the Christian life is a life of fulfillment, of progress, of victory. Yes, it is a life of struggle, it is a life of heroic tragedy at times, but the net result at the end of the day is victory and joy and even those times when we cry and we suffer, it’s because God wants to give more texture to his work of art that you and I are. So we puts dark streaks in us and he takes a knife and goes right across the canvass and you know, it’s like those modern works of paintings… they’re not really paintings, they’re just accumulations of paint that have a lot of texture in them, and they’re tortured and multicolored and it makes them beautiful in a different kind of way. It’s not nice, it’s not a nice painting but it has character, and it has authenticity and it says something, even if you don’t know what it says, but it does say something.
And you know, that’s what God wants for us. He doesn’t want simplicity and comfort. He wants a human being. That’s what I was telling my daughter this morning in a conversation that I had with my oldest daughter. You know, God wants profound human beings and so he allows pain to come in, and darkness and periods of struggle, because he’s not so much interested in making us comfortable, as making us complex for his glory.
I don’t want a comfortable life. I want a complex life. The image that I have of what I would like God to do in each of us, in my own life, it’s those trees that you sometimes in Vermont or in Massachusetts, old, old trees from the seventeen hundreds or even older, they’re gnarled and twisted and you know, this little branch that is taking out all spindly with knots in the middle and you see the ravages of the wind and the rain, but they have persisted somehow. And they’re not beautiful trees, they’re ugly, sinister trees, but they’re beautiful in a way and they have survived hundreds of years and they bear the marks of a whole history of weather that has gone through them. And there they are.
That’s what I prefer. I think that is the image for a Christian who has lived hard and experienced a lot and cried a lot and warred a lot and has all kinds of scars and also moments of joy that they celebrate, and there’s that mixture there. That’s what God wants and that is why he deals with us in a certain way, but all in all it’s beautiful, it’s great. And I think we should see our lives that way, you know, because God has good intentions, but it doesn’t mean that it will be easy necessarily, but it will be good and it will be beautiful. Do not be afraid of pain. Do not be afraid of difficult times in your life, because the God that is allowing all of that, says ‘don’t worry, the end is good’.
That’s what the writer of Hebrews says. Remember the end of the Lord, the ending is always good in God’s stories. Now, when we are going through the stormy parts, it’s scary, but as I say, don’t think that it’s the book, it’s just a chapter. Wait for the other chapters before you throw in the towel and give up, because God says….. and you know, I see that when he says “….because I know the plans I have for you –verse 11- for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future for I know the plans I have for you.”
See, that’s the way God always speaks to us. When we are trying to put a different text of negativity and we’re thinking ‘oh, I’m just going to grow old and I’m going to be alone and ugly in an apartment, watching TV and looking at the window, and nobody will call me, nobody will want to be near me. My children will hate me and I’ll be sick….’
You know, there’s that fear that many of us are playing even at this age. We’re already anticipating for that time. Rebuke that in the name of Christ. That is a demonic image that doesn’t belong…… God sometimes has to say ‘hey, stop that for I know the plans I have for you’.
See, that’s the way God’s statement there is a polemical statement. It’s not a neutral statement: “….. for I know the plans that I have for you”.
So take away that expectation of destruction and that depression that you are living in Babylon and replace it because I know the plans that I have for you. They’re plans for good, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. That’s what you should expect from the Kingdom of God. That’s what you should expect from life as a believer and as a member of the kingdom.
God will prosper you. You know, expect great things from life and change the program, if it’s a negative one and cultivate an aggressive expectation of victory and of prosperity, and a hopeful attitude, and an expectation that whatever you undertake God will bless it and if it’s not what you thought it would end up like, it will be better. Perhaps different but good, whatever it is.
If you don’t hit that mark that you’re going to hit, you’ll hit another one and it will be a bull’s eye. And you know, for me that is the essence of the attitude that we should cultivate as believers.
So you see, I’m not preaching an easy prosperity. Oh, God will give you the Mercedes Benz and the two dogs, and a cat and a house in the suburbs and all that. Well, he may…. And you know, I don’t see any wrong with expecting that, in working for it, but even if it’s something else in that moment that you’re living of pain and difficulty, he’s working in there as well and he’s creating something good out of that. It may take a year, two years, 3 years, five years, but in the end you will look back and say ‘yes, it was what God wanted’, and you’ll have to exercise huge trust.
I was speaking to a lady who’s coming to the church in love with God, I mean, just a poster child for first love. And this is a successful woman, entrepreneurial, gifted, beautiful, successful who was living in the vanity of life a few years back without knowledge of the Kingdom of God, like land that had not been tilled, like so many successful people live life: superficial spiritually and ethically and morally. Her son ended up in jail, one of her beautiful sons and I have seen her children, they’re beautiful; the boys and the girls. They come from good stock. So she had been blessed with everything: a big house, all the great stuff and this son that she loved so much ends up in jail falsely accused apparently, I could believe how, in that case, and a long story he ends up getting 12 years in jail.
You can understand what happens to a person full of vanity, well known in the community, making a lot of money, a net worker, and all of a sudden this happens and the whole trial apparently hit the news. It must have been known in the community. He happened to ran into a very powerful man in his community and that was the problem. Interesting story.
Anyway, sitting with her this week as she told me her story, you know, she says ‘… and yet looking back now, that was the definitive point and I thank God that that happened. And her son who is in Walpole prison, maximum security is full of joy there, serving the Lord, soon maybe in a year and a half to come out because he didn’t serve the 12 years you know, they give you time off for good behavior and so on and so forth, but the pain of that failure it broke her in her vanity, in her self sufficiency so much that it opened her to receiving the waves from heaven and from eternity. It detoxified her of her addiction to this life and forced her, it opened a wound, a gash that allowed heaven to penetrate into her, and unleashed a process that now she serves the Lord. Five years ago she began and it’s a journey that she’s been following, but now she’s like she’s discovering the kingdom again. And she wants to give her life to the Lord, completely I mean: life, money, resources, everything.
That’s what I mean. That sometimes sinister things happen to us in our journey, but we have to wait 5, 10 years before we arrive to a final interpretation of what is truly happening. What is truly happening we can only know in the context of 5 years or 10 years from now. The context defines so many things, so you cannot make quick decisions.
And this is… you must not abandon that basic theme of God’s dealings with his children, which is “…. For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Always remember that.
That’s God’s ultimate desire for your life. As you come into the kingdom and you receive Jesus as your Lord and you dwell in obedience before your God and you fear him and revere him, know that that’s….. if God could say this to people who had brought him to the brink of despair through hundreds of years of disobedience and of absolute neglect of his glory, and he could say this, how much more to us that are dwelling in Jesus Christ and that fear the Lord and love him, how much more? Could his plan be less now than it was in that deficient dispensation of the Old Testament, whatever you want to call it? It cannot be, it’s even superior.
And so, you know, you must understand that you must cultivate, that you must cling to that and you must undertake great things, that’s the part that’s so important, because God says to them ‘hey, do not diminish, build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce, marry and have sons and daughters, find wives for your sons and give your daughters a marriage so that they too may have sons and daughters, increase in number there, do not decrease’.
You know, God’s people are called to be enterprising, entrepreneurial people. You know, we should be always investing our energies in something creative. Anybody, I think, a person who is wimpy and conservative and complacent, a Christian who fills that description is an affront to the creative God that we serve, the entrepreneurial God that we have and the God who has said ‘I want you to be undertaking because my plan’s for you’ re good’.
We are called to live enterprising lives. Really, my original text was the talent that the servant who was unfaithful and God had given them each a talent and expected them to do something with it and that third guy did not do it and God was angry with him.
You know, I really believe that giving God’s wonderful intentions and the atmosphere of grace and love that he has bathed us in, the only alternative is for us to be like healthy kids who have grown up in a nice environment. We got to break the china. We got to be restless. We always have to be undertaking new things, learning new things, developing new skills, always in process, embracing life, being undertaking, not being content with our imperfections, always seeking to become better, allowing truth to penetrate us because the God who has blessed us and has prospered us requires that we know truth in order to know how to better invest our energies, and how to improve ourselves, rather than running away from the truth because we’re going conservative and if the truth shines on me, then what do I do? Well, what you do is that you use that great energy that God has given you to become better.
You see, life is transformed or should be transformed when we are penetrated by God’s unlimited reserve on our behalf and we are expected to be great undertaking people. Do not dishonor the great God that you serve, who has invested all his energies to make you great by becoming complacent and conservative and lazy in your life.
You must become good in every area: intellectual, physical, spiritual, moral, emotional. There is no darkness in your life that you cannot vanish. I tell you, somebody victimized you in the past, just go and take that dark spot in your life and apply God’s energy into it, whatever it might be. Read, seek counsel, pray, fast, but don’t leave that thing darkening your soul. Get it out of there and God will give you the means to do that if you apply yourself believing that every piece of land that is around me and that I step on, I have been given ownership of it.
And the land, my land, is my being and so I’m going to conquer my land and so whatever it is, professionally, or spiritually or ministerial, whatever it is in your life, believe God has endowed you with such a huge reserve of energy and grace, and love and good intention, that there’s no excuse for you not undertake something great and beautiful, and that you not undertake the great project that is your life, so that when you give your last breath you will leave the memory of a beautiful human being that labored and developed him or herself to the point of beauty, incandescence because God endowed them with the energy to do that.
That’s what we should all be living like and toward, in the light of you know, God’s extreme love and his call to be enterprising, to invest, to buy, to unite, all these different things, to establish lordship, exercise lordship.
When God creates a creature is to exercise lordship. When he created Adam and Eve, he said ‘Lord over all creation, do things, beautify this world. Don’t diminish it, on the contrary, make it more beautiful and more lasting, more enduring.’.
So there’s two things, you know, one: God’s extreme love, grace, investment in our life, extreme promise of love and affirmation and support and his call in the light of that to be undertaking, to be enterprising, to be creative, not to be content with the minimum but go for the maximum. Vanish mediocrity from your life in every area. A minor point, not minor but very important, but I want to minimize it because … I’ve over …….as always, is he says ‘and seek the peace of the city, pray for your city’.
You know, it’s important to understand that we’re not here just to be successful for ourselves and to use God ‘s energy and resources just to make ourselves great and to make money, or become great professional or artists, or whatever. No, you know, it is to be an agent of God’s grace and love and knowledge to others. You fulfill your destiny as you reach out to others and you love others, and you bless your city, you bless your community, you bless your church, you bless your husband or your wife, you bless your friends, you bless the weak, you bless the poor and the forsaken and you see yourself as a raw, naked instrument of God’s grace wherever you go.
And you got so much inside of you that you can allow yourself the luxury of giving left and right and investing left and right. Be generous. Give away. Forgive a lot. Be patient. Share your resources because just as you share them, immediately God will replace them. You’re like a river that as the water flows away from the fixed point that you’re observing it, new water has come in and it doesn’t seem to diminish. And that’s what we are, we’re just grace and life and goodness flowing from us on to others and being immediately replaced by God’s unlimited resource.
So, you know, God says ‘you have enough not only to be successful in this place that I have called you, but also to bless the place where you find yourself around you. Life ultimately is exile. We are exiles living in this world. Exiles from God’s perfect intentions for us and we are on our way to a place where that will be resolved, but meanwhile let’s bless the place where we are, let’s bless this world until we enter into that promised land.
Let’s make sure that we not only live for ourselves but live for others, give to others, be generous, generous, generous, materially in every sense. Do not hold on to a grudge. Forgive those who offend you. Don’t only give to those that have given to you. No, be generous in every sense. Exercise the muscles of generosity and of grace, of forgiveness, tolerance, patience, and give away the store because God’s store is unlimited, so you can afford to give because the God who has endowed you has done it in an unlimited sort of way.
“…. For I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you, plans to do good things to you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
Thank you, Father. We embrace your extreme love, your extreme promise. Forgive us for doubting. Forgive me for doubting, Father. I need to preach this message to myself and I thank you because you remind me when I am tempted to fall into a pity party that you have called me to live a victorious, heroic life and not fear to invest myself because you’re backing my currency with a store of gold that is unlimited.
I pray this feeling for all of us tonight, this overwhelming sense of confidence, of expectation, of great things for the future, because we serve you who are faithful and loving. You are just also, but so loving, so gracious, so forgiving. Let us see you for who you are always, Father.
Thank you because your character gives assurance. Give me confidence, that peerless God so good that he won’t let his love overwhelm his justice and his lucidity and therefore I can trust him to do the right thing.
Thank you, Father. May your words impregnate us. May your words be life dwelling within us tonight, Lord. I bless this people tonight with your promise of love. Thank you, we’ll rest our heads in your shoulder right now, Father. Thank you. Amen.