Let the Nations be Glad

May 28, 2023 ()

Bible Text: Psalm 67 |

Let the Nations Be Glad | Psalm 67
Brian Hedges | May 28, 2023

Today is Pentecost Sunday, and it’s also the International Day for the Unreached. So every year we take this day especially to give a special focus to missions and to the needs of the world, to the unreached peoples of the world. Part of this, for me, was born in my heart twenty years ago—a little over twenty years ago now—when in 2003 I attended a conference in Minneapolis. Back then it was called the Desiring God Pastors’ Conference. It was the first one I’d ever been to, and I was listening to John Piper, first of all, who gave a biographical lecture on Adoniram Judson, who was that great missionary to Burma.

I was so deeply moved in that message that I wept through most of it. It really touched my heart. Also in that conference I got to hear George Verwer of Operation Mobilization, and he had this big beach ball that looked like a globe. He was spinning that around on his hand, pointing out all the unreached places of the world and giving a fresh call to be engaged in reaching the unreached peoples of the world.

I was actually in between pastorates. I had left my first pastorate and this church was on the radar, but I had not visited here yet. But I felt this deep conviction in my heart that, “Brian, there is no excuse for you to remain a pastor in the United States with the needs of the world unless you use your leadership to lead a church to become a globally-minded church and to lead a church in missions.”

It was a short time later that I visited here, and the Lord called me here, and you called me here, and I’ve been here these twenty years. It’s been a part of our heartbeat and our mission these last few decades to be globally-minded and to be engaged in the task of missions.

We have a five-tiered approach to our missions strategy, and at the top of that list, the top need and the place where most of our missions funds go, is to meet the needs of the unreached peoples of the world. So as we’re bringing on missionaries each year, that’s the priority. We’re so grateful for this family and their willingness to do that.

Today what I want us to do is get some grounding in Scripture as we think about the task that has been set for us and the call that is on the church. We’re going to be in Psalm 67, if you want to turn there in your Bibles. It’s one of the great Old Testament passages that has a missions focus, as the psalmist here prays for the nations. Psalm 67 is just seven verses, so I want to begin by reading this psalm, and then we’ll work through it together. Psalm 67, beginning in verse 1.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

“Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

“The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!”

This is God’s word.

This is a simple psalm, but with a profound meaning. I want us to unpack it by looking at four things:

1. The Shining Face of God (v. 1)
2. The Saving Power of God (v. 2)
3. The Global People of God (vv. 3-5)
4. The Certain Purpose of God (vv. 6-7)

Let’s begin.

1. The Shining Face of God

Look at verse 1. The psalmist begins his prayer, and he says, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.”

This is a prayer for God’s blessing. It has three parts. He’s asking for God to be gracious, he’s asking for God to bless, and he’s asking for God to shine his face upon us. If you know your Bibles, you’re going to recognize that language. That is a very clear and direct echo of the priestly blessing, the benediction that would be pronounced by the priests on the people of Israel, that’s given in Numbers 6:24-26.

Remember the context here. This is at the foot of Mount Sinai, when these words are first given. The children of Israel have been delivered, they’ve been redeemed out of slavery in Egypt. God has now given them the tabernacle, the tabernacle is constructed, the glory of God now dwells among the people; and the priests are to pronounce this blessing on all the people of God, Numbers 6:24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

That’s the blessing, and it’s that blessing that the psalmist here is now praying, as he says, “May God bless us and be gracious to us and make his face to shine upon us.”

What do you think he means there when he says, “May your face shine upon us”? That’s an important phrase in Scripture, the face of God. As I was working on this, I remembered that Tim Keller had talked about this in some of his sermons in a very memorable way. Many of you know that Tim Keller just went to be with the Lord about ten days ago. It was a tremendous loss for the church in America and around the world, but a tremendous gain for him, as he now is before the very face of God. But Tim Keller in one of his sermons defines this for us in a very helpful way. He’s going all the way back to Genesis, where Adam and Eve had walked with God in the fellowship of the garden, and then when they sinned they lost the face of God. That’s the context here.

Keller said,

“For God’s face to be turned to you and to shine upon you means to have an intimate, personal relationship with God. [Now get this.] The first main point of the Bible is that we had the face of God in the garden, but when we turned from him and decided to be our own saviors, our own lords, our own masters, the captains of our own souls, we lost not the presence of God—he’s everywhere—but the face of God, the love relationship, the personal relationship.”

So, the shining face of God in Scripture represents God’s grace being turned towards us, God looking upon us with kindness and the light of his countenance facing us, so that we are once again in this intimate, personal relationship with God. Sin estranges us from God, it alienates us from God, it separates us from God. That’s what happened in the Fall. What we need at the very core of our being, the deepest possible need of our hearts, is to be restored to this right relationship with our Creator.

We quote it all the time, St. Augustine from his Confessions. He said, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” That’s the idea. For God’s face to shine upon us means to be restored to this relationship with God, so that we are in right relationship with him.

Before we go any further, I want to ask you this morning, is the face of God shining on you? Do you know that? Do you know that you are in a right relationship with your Creator, so that there’s fellowship, there’s an intimacy, there is a relationship between your soul and God? If you don’t know that, then may today be the day when you turn to the Lord in faith and repentance, you trust in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins, so that God’s face can shine on you with grace and with mercy and with blessing. That’s the prayer that the psalmist is praying here. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.”

But notice this: he’s praying this prayer for another reason. This isn’t the only thing he’s saying. He’s saying this in order for something else to happen. You see it in verse 2: “. . . that your way may be known, your saving power among all nations.” In other words, he’s saying, “May God bless us and be gracious to us and make his face shine upon us so that your way would be known and your saving power would be known among all the nations.”

It means that God blesses us so that we can bless others. He is gracious to us so that we can extend the message of that grace to others. This is always the pattern in Scripture. God saves a people for himself so that they will be light to the nations. He shines his face on us so that we will reflect that light to others. He loves us so that we will share that love with others. He sends his Son to die for us and he sends his Spirit to live within us so that he can then send us out to share that message with others. That’s what this psalm is all about.

2. The Saving Power of God

So the shining face of God leads right into the second point in verse 2, the saving power of God. “. . . that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.”

(1) I want us to think about the meaning of this for a minute. What does it mean when we talk about God’s saving power, when we talk about salvation? We use this word a lot, don’t we? We talk about being saved, we talk about salvation. The Christian gospel, the Christian message is all about being saved. What do we mean when we talk about salvation?

Let me give you several ways to think about this. We might think, first of all, what we need to be saved from. To be saved means to be delivered, and we have to ask, What do we need to be delivered from?

The answer in Scripture is that we need to be delivered from sin, and we need to be delivered from death, and we need to be delivered from the judgment of God. The great problem in the world is the problem of sin. You remember that Paul said in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So our problem is sin that separates us from God, and the sentence that’s passed on the human race because of sin is the sentence of death. That means physical death. The reason that there is death and decay and suffering and disease and that all of us age and eventually we are in the grave—the reason for that is because we live in a fallen world. It’s because of the problem of sin. That’s not the way God created the world, but that’s what sin has brought into the world: the problem of death.

But death also has to do with the judgment of God, and it includes not only physical death but what the Bible describes as the “second death,” and that is the eternal separation of God from the human being and the separation of the soul and the body from God. We need to be rescued from that.

So, salvation is first and foremost being delivered from sin and from death and from the judgment of God for our sins.

When we talk about salvation, we could also think about the different tenses of salvation: past, present, and future.

It would be true in Scripture to say that we have been saved from our sins if we are believers, so there’s a past tense to salvation. We have been saved—that is, delivered—from the penalty of our sins. If you believe in Jesus Christ today, Scriptures say that you are now justified by faith in Christ. That means that the curse is canceled, the penalty is paid, the price is paid, and you are now right in the sight of God. If that has been accomplished, that’s the past tense of salvation.

But we can also say that we are being saved in the present tense, because there is an ongoing deliverance from sin. This is what we often call sanctification. It’s the idea that we are progressively becoming more and more like Christ, we are progressively dealing with sin, the power of sin has been broken in our lives, and we are growing in Christlikeness, growing in holiness, growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. We are all in that ongoing process of continuing deliverance from sin.

But there’s also a future tense to salvation, right, because we’re waiting for the completion of our redemption. Paul in Romans 13 says, “Now is our salvation nearer to us than when we first believed.”

Isn’t that interesting? He’s talking to believers, and he says, “Now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Salvation is something in the future. What’s he talking about? He’s talking about the second coming of Christ, when Jesus returns and when our salvation is completed.

We could say that salvation in the past is deliverance from the penalty of sin, salvation in the present is deliverance from the power of sin, but salvation in the future is deliverance from the very presence of sin, where our bodies will actually be redeemed, our bodies will be resurrected. Paul says in Philippians 3, “Our bodies will be made like unto his glorious body.” We will be fully conformed to the image of Christ.

All of that is encompassed in salvation, the saving power of God.

(2) Here’s one more way we can think about it. We think about salvation from the effects of sin. When Adam and Eve were in the garden and they committed that first sin, they pulled on a thread that began to unravel every dimension of human existence. Think about the spiritual dimension, our relationship with God. They pull on a thread that unraveled the relationship with God, so that we are now separated from the life of God, from the fellowship of God. Disintegration in that relationship.

But there’s also a physical disintegration, and that, again, is the problem of sickness and suffering and death in the world. But there’s also a psychological dimension to this, and it’s the inward problems that we all deal with. It’s the problems of guilt and fear and anxiety and shame and those broken parts inside of us. Those are all the effects of sin. Salvation has to do with the healing of those effects of sin in our lives.

We could think about the social disintegration in the world. Think about wars, think about racial conflict and tensions, think about injustice and oppression on all levels of every kind. Think about the social problems of the world, the upheaval—think about school shootings and mass shootings. All the stuff that we read about in the news every day are all the effects of sin in the world. It’s the social breakdown that happens because of sin.

There’s even an environmental dimension to this, because the earth itself is under the curse of God. Paul says in Romans 8 that the created order itself is groaning with anticipation, waiting for redemption. All the upheaval that we see in the created order—earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis and tornados, all these natural disasters that happen and bring so much devastation in their wake—they’re all because we live in a fallen world, a world that is under the curse because of sin.

The saving power of God has to do with bringing healing to all these different effects of sin, either now or in the future.

A number of years ago, when I first came to this church, I had a friend that was in the church, and he had several children, and he was teaching his kids about the brokenness that comes into the world because of sin. One day his oldest son, who was maybe six or seven years old at the time, came in and said, “Dad, there’s sin in the driveway!” He wondered, What is he talking about? He went out and looked at the driveway and there was this big crack in the driveway. The son saw the brokenness, and he said, “That’s sin! There’s sin in the driveway!”

I’ve remembered that ever since, and it’s a good analogy. There’s sin everywhere—the brokenness that is in the world.

When we pray this prayer, that God would bless us so that his way would be known and his saving power among all the nations, what we’re praying for is the saving power of God to bring healing to all those dimensions of brokenness that are in the world.

But get this: the salvation has to be made known. The psalmist prays, “That your way would be made known” and “your saving power made known.” How is it made known? It’s made known through the people of God, and that’s where we come in. That’s the mission: it is to make the saving power of God known.

I don’t know of any passage of Scripture that’s more clear on this than Romans 10:13-15. Paul is writing here. Listen to what he says. He says, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” But now there’s a chain of things that have to happen in order for people to be saved.

Verse 14:

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”

Therefore the call of the church is to go and to send and to preach and to share this message, so that the saving power of God will be known, so that people can call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

Last night a number of us were here at the church to watch a film called The Ends of the Earth. It’s a documentary about Mission Aviation Fellowship and their work in Indonesia, and all the steps it takes to really get the gospel to penetrate a culture, an unreached people group. This is a photo from that film.

I wish there had been more people here for it. I want to encourage you, if you didn’t see it, get the movie and watch this film. I was moved to tears watching this last night. It put wind in my sails for this message today and was just a fresh reminder to me of the importance of this task of missions and of reaching the unreached people of the world. When that film was finished and Holly and I were talking about it, she said, “It reminded me of the verse, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.’”

We have a job to do, and that job is to take this message to the unreached peoples of the world.

3. The Global People of God

That leads us to point number three, the global people of God. The reason we pray for God to shine his face on us and bless us is so that his saving power would be known, and not known just with us, but known to all the peoples of the world.

In context, it’s not just that God’s saving power would be known to Israel, but that God’s saving power would be known to the nations. Verse 2 ends with the word “nations,” and then read verses 3-5, and notice here how seven times the “nations” or the “peoples” of the world—plural—are emphasized.

“Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

“Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!”

This is one of those key passages in Scripture—there are many of these, but this is one of the key ones, especially in the Old Testament, that calls our attention to God’s purpose to save for himself people from all the peoples of the world. It’s why we talk about people groups. This is common in missiological circles, people who care a lot about missions, and it’s something that we talk about here at Redeemer. In fact, every month—one Sunday of the month—we highlight an unreached country and the unreached people groups in a particular country. We’re trying to call attention to that, to show the need of the world.

But I want to put a little more definition on this this morning so that we get some clarity on what we’re talking about when we talk about unreached people groups.

Let me ask some questions.

Number one, what is an unreached people group? For a definition I want to quote Marv Newell. Marv, as you know, is our deacon of missions, he’s the chairman of our global outreach team. He was a missionary in Indonesia for years. He’s not here this morning, actually because he’s on a mission trip. Isn’t that great? I love that we have somebody on a mission trip on the international Sunday for unreached peoples.

But you may not know that Marv has written a number of books, and one of his books is called A Third of Us. Here’s basically his definition of an unreached people group: It is a group of people who have no believers, they have no Bible, they have no church, and therefore they have no access to the gospel. They’ve never heard of Jesus. They have no opportunity to hear of Jesus, because they don’t have a Bible in their own language, they don’t know any Christians, and there’s no church on the corner that they can go to. That’s an unreached people group.

How many of these are there? Let me give you an overview. The population of the world at this point is approximately eight billion people. Those eight billion people are comprised of about 17,443 people groups—that means distinct cultural groups; these are groups of people who have their own language. The primary barrier is going to be a language barrier. Even in a country like Indonesia you have thousands of individual tribes and groups. They maybe only are separated by a number of miles, but they have their own language. They’re a small group of people who have their own language and their own culture.

Of these 17,400 people groups, 7,386 are unreached. No believer, no Bible, no church. That’s 42.3 percent of the world. That’s 3.4 billion people. That is one third of the human race. One third of the human race has no Bible, no access at all. They’re unreached. And that’s the task. That’s the call: to reach them.

You might ask, Where are these people groups? Let me show you on a map. They’re in the places on the globe that are red. So it’s northern Africa and much of Asia. It’s known as the 10:40 window. One reason in our church we have this tiered system of priorities for missions is that most of our missions goes to reach unreached people groups. It’s missionaries and groups of people who are in the red.

Now, there are a lot of people who are serving the Lord in lots of different places in the world, and there are lots of people who haven’t believed. So there’s evangelistic work to be done in the green areas. In North America, sure, there are lots of people who need to hear about Jesus, and you and I should be telling them about Jesus. There are lots of people in South America who need to hear about Jesus. But here’s the difference. In America you can go to Barnes & Noble and you can buy a Bible! You can turn on Christian radio and you can hear a sermon. There is a church—I don’t even know how many—there are hundreds of churches in this area. Just drive down the street, there’s another church! If you go to a coffee shop you’re probably going to run into a Christian. There are Christians here. This culture is reached in the sense that gospel is available.

But in all those red places of the world there are no believers, no Bibles, no churches, no access. They don’t know about Jesus.

The next question is, why should we reach them? The psalm gives us the answer. We should reach them for their salvation and for their joy, so that God’s saving power would be known in their lives and so that they would have the joy of knowing the Lord. “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,” the text says.

In watching that video last night, one of the things that struck me was the testimonies of people in Indonesia who once were in darkness but now have believed in Jesus and have received the gospel, and their lives have been utterly changed. They talk about this. They talk about how before they heard the gospel they were caught up in ancestral worship, they were caught up in spiritism and all this kind of stuff. They had superstitious beliefs that disease and sickness was caused by evil spirits and by evil people. So people start getting sick, and what do they do? They boil up a cauldron and they’re doing these incantations and they’re trying to figure out who’s responsible. They put all the names of people they think may be responsible, and then when the name pops up of the person they think is responsible, they go kill that person. These villagers say they killed numbers of women in their own village because they thought they were responsible for disease in the village. But when the gospel came they were free from that, and the joy on their faces when that plane lands and these people are surrounding the plane because it means they’re going to have access to the Bible and to teaching and to hear God’s Word, the joy on their faces is something worth giving your life for. The salvation and the joy of these people is one reason we should reach them.

But there’s another reason that’s even more important than that, and that is the glory and the praise of God. You see that in the text.

“Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

“Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!”

The focus here is vertical. The focus is on the glory and the praise of God. The reason why we should take the gospel to the ends of the earth is because God is worthy. He made these people in his image, and he is worthy of their praise and of their worship.

One of the most important paragraphs I’ve ever read in my life on missions comes from John Piper’s book Let the Nations Be Glad, where he says, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church; worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. Worship is the goal of missions.”

The reason why you and I are called to go and to send and to pray and to see to it that this task is complete and that the gospel goes to the ends of the earth is because God will be glorified by all the peoples of the world. That’s part of his plan, it’s part of his purpose, and we are commanded and invited to participate in it.

4. The Certain Purpose of God

That leads us to point number four, the certain purpose of God. You can’t talk about missions without acknowledging that it involves a lot of money, it involves great risk, it involves great sacrifice. When people are willing to leave the comfort of their homeland, they’re willing to leave family and relationships, they’re literally selling most of their belongings, and they’re moving to a place that maybe they’ve only visited once or twice (if that), they are learning another language, they’re raising money to keep themselves and their families alive, and they’re entering into a risky situation where their lives could be in danger. Why do that, and how can we have confidence that this will even work?

I think the answer comes from the certainty of God’s saving purposes in the world. I was struck in reading this psalm by the definitive statements in verses 6-7.

“The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!”

God shall bless us. I read that and I was reminded of Charles Spurgeon, who said that he loved to preach on the “shalls” and the “wills” of the Bible. I started thinking about the “shalls” and the “wills” that relate to God’s global purposes in salvation and that relate to missions. Let me give you a few of them. This is what gives us confidence that this work will be done and that our sacrifice is worth it and that God will use it.

Habakkuk 2:14: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” That hasn’t happened yet. The earth is not filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea—not yet, but someday it will be. This is coming. There will be a day when every knee will bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. There will be a day when the peoples of the nations and representatives from every people group in the world will bow at the feet of King Jesus.

In Matthew 24:14 Jesus says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Now, when we talk about eschatology, the doctrine of last things, there are a lot of opinions about eschatology. There’s a lot of division about eschatology. People have all kinds of ideas about the end times. Let me tell you something. Here’s one thing you can know for sure: Jesus said that this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the nations, and then the end will come. This is one of the things that has to happen. This has to happen. The church has to complete the Great Commission. This gospel must be proclaimed. Jesus says it will be proclaimed throughout the whole world.

Or take Matthew 1:21. This is the message of the angel to Joseph, when he learned that his betrothed, Mary, is going to bear a son, Jesus, who is the Messiah. The angel says, “She [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” It doesn’t say he might save them, it doesn’t say he will try to save them, he will attempt to save them; it says he shall save his people from their sins. There’s this certainty to it. He’s going to accomplish his work. He’s going to finish the work and accomplish his mission.

Or take one more. This was the passage we had for our assurance of pardon this morning, John 6. We read John 6:37 and 40. Let me read John 6:37-40. Notice the “shalls” and the “wills.”

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

What is that? What is the will of the Father who sent Jesus? Jesus tells us in verses 39-40.

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

I don’t know of a passage of Scripture that more perfectly balances the doctrine of God’s divine sovereignty in salvation and the free offer of the gospel, that whoever looks on the Son and believes in the Son will be saved. Both of those are true, and you have them together right there.

You put all these verses and more together and it tells us that God’s glory is going to be known throughout all the earth, the gospel is going to be preached to all the nations, Christ is going to save his people, he’s going to build his church, and everyone who believes in Christ will be saved. These are the great “shalls” of the gospel, and it gives us confidence.

I love the story of the Moravian missionaries. You may remember the Moravians were instrumental in the conversion of John Wesley. In the 1730s these Moravians—they were German evangelical pietists, and there were these two men, John Dober and David Nichmann, who heard about slaves in the West Indies who did not know Jesus. This would have been the Caribbean islands. They heard about these people who were slaves and had no knowledge of Jesus; they were without Christ. These two men were in their early twenties, and they decided that they would go and take the gospel. How to get there? That was the question.

You know what they did? They sold themselves into slavery to be taken to the Caribbean islands, so there they could build relationships and they could share the name of Jesus. As the ship was sailing away and their family and their friends were there on the shore watching the ship sail away, one of the men cried out, “May the Lamb receive the reward for his sufferings!”

You see, there was this deep confidence that Christ, the Lamb of God, has died for our sins, he’s paid the price, and he will receive his reward. But he receives it through us as we go and as we share that message, the message of the gospel, with others.

This is our confidence for our task! The glory of the Lord will cover the earth, the gospel will be preached to the nations, and Christ will save his people.

The only question this morning is this: will you be a part of God’s saving purposes in the world? In your prayers, in your priorities, in giving, in supporting, in caring about the third of humanity who have never heard the gospel, and in getting behind those people who feel called to go? Maybe for some of you this morning there’s a stirring in your heart. Maybe God’s working on you. Maybe he’s starting to loosen something in your own heart, saying, “Maybe you should consider going.”

I don’t know where you are this morning, but I know this: I know that every Christian is called to be a missionary. Every Christian is called to share the gospel with others. We should all be engaged, we should all be involved, we should all be praying. And the call of God on our church this morning is to pray this prayer for ourselves: “May God bless us and be gracious to us and make his face to shine upon us, so that his way would be known, his saving power among the nations,” to the glory and to the praise of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let’s pray together.

Our Father in heaven, we thank you this morning that even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins that in your grace you reached down to save us, and you sent somebody, maybe a parent who told us about Jesus, maybe a VBS or a Sunday school teacher who shared the gospel with us. Maybe someone who gave us a Bible or a friend who was a Christian who shared their testimony; but somebody, somewhere, told us the good news. Lord, we thank you for that. We thank you for that gift, that you have given us access to the gospel and an understanding of the way of salvation, that we know who Jesus is.

Lord, as we consider that there are billions of people—a third of the population on this planet—who right now don’t have that access, they don’t have that opportunity, we ask you, Lord, to burden our hearts. We ask you, Lord, to show us what you would have us to do. And we ask you, Lord, to awaken us from any apathy that maybe has settled in and to renew within us a zeal for your name and a passion for your glory and a love for our fellow human beings and a willingness to do what we can to be a part of your saving purposes in the world.

As we come to the Lord’s table this morning, may we come with our eyes first of all on Jesus himself, as we think about his sacrifice for us, as we think of his dying love, that he would go all the way to the cross so that your face could be turned towards us, your face could shine upon us. Lord, as we consider the love of Jesus for us, may it have such a transforming effect that our hearts begin to overflow in love for others, for those who are around us and for those who are around the world. We ask you, Lord, to work in these moments to do what only your Holy Spirit can do, what a sermon can’t do, a video can’t do, a testimony can’t do. Only your Holy Spirit can really change our hearts and turn us away from our self-centeredness and give us a genuine heart for you and a love for people. So we ask you for that.

Lord, work in us this morning what is pleasing in your sight, we pray for the glory of your great and precious name, in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.