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Fasting for a City's Salvation

Saturday, August 24, 2019

When a person sins against God, forgiveness is available through Christ Jesus. When a city has transgressed against God, absolution can seem far fetched because compounding ills plaguing communities appear to be without viable solutions. And yet, Scripturally, there is an answer!  With wickedness comes warnings, and God will relent when we fast and pray.

The reality is, with sin comes the destruction of life and the degradation of any society, but God does not just exact punishment without warning. Rather, He gives grace and reveals (Amos 3:7). He does not overlook humility, but He forgives (2 Chronicles 7:14). And, He does not ignore the prayers of the righteous, but He answers (Psalm 34:15). No matter how pervasive or great the sin, through Christ forgiveness is still available as our Father responds to people with love, compassion and integrity.

We see the same in the book of Jonah. Though the storyline begins with Jonah’s disobedience and subsequent adventure, those events should not overshadow the love and compassion of God towards the city of Nineveh. Because of God’s love, the prophet cried out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”The warning was enough for the king to consider his ways and then marshal his city towards repentance. Jonah 3:6-9 records the king “arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, ‘Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?’”

God saw their display of repentance, He saw their rejection of evil and “relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jonah 3:10) 

The good news is that God remains the same today as He was yesterday; and every time we determine to heed the warnings of sin found in Scripture and humble ourselves, imminent doom upon our cities can be averted. Even more, we can find favor from God that affords much grace towards others.



For instance, the depravity within the city of Sodom was known by God, and while the residents within did not entertain repentance, God would uphold His integrity and honor His promise to one man, Abraham, by sparing his nephew, Lot. 2 Peter 2:8 says, Lot was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds of those within his city; and while the magnificent events of Lot’s deliverance, the rain of brimstone and fire, the turning of his wife to salt, and the smoke that plumed like a furnace from a distance, could divert our attention away from the point, it also underscores the power of prayer. As Abraham understood the impending doom, he interceded for his own and as a result, the city remained until Lot’s departure. In Genesis 19:22 Lot is told, “Hurry, escape there [to a nearby city]. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” The fact that God would uphold destruction until Lot left the city is absolutely amazing!

Plenty of people within our respective cities, then, are benefiting from our decision to remain and our earnest intercession for those in our immediate surroundings or zip code. Proverbs 3:29 says, your neighbor dwells by you for safety’s sake! And because of God’s love for people and His integrity and compassion towards all, when you combine fasting and prayer, He hears and He does relent—He saves, He spares, He gives grace.

Destruction may be on the horizon, but I pray that we’ll use this time of fasting and prayer to truly intercede for people in our respective cities: Pray for city officials, for the school board, for local hospitals and labor workers. Pray, and experience a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence, just as Paul promised in 2 Timothy 2:2. Pray and see the power of God at work in your life and in those around you. Pray. Let’s pray. Our cities—your city—needs you.

Father, I cry out to You because You see all things and are still slow to anger and abounding in love and mercy. So, today, I humble myself before You and declare Your Sovereignty over this city, _____________. Lord, where wickedness and depravity have come before You, remember the blood of Jesus, blot out our transgressions and be the Light in this city that breaks the darkness.

I command the prince of the power of the air, that spirit that works in the sons of disobedience in this area, to flee now!  Jesus is Lord here, and I pray for the conviction of the Spirit of God to arrest the hearts of both young and old; male and female; and, every nation, tribe and tongue. Father, send laborers into this city that salvation would come to the lost. And make me a bold witness of Your love. I pray for a godly sorrow to come upon the hardest of hearts, and for a repentance that leads towards conversion that there may be a time of refreshing in every family, business and church. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Qwynn Gross
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union at Princeton

Fasting as Senders and Goers

Friday, August 23, 2019

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. — Acts 13:1-3

In this passage, we see the first Christians are worshiping and seeking God. As they do, we see the Holy Spirit direct them to send out two of their especially gifted and godly leaders.

Father, Free Me From These Shackles

Thursday, August 22, 2019

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. — Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV)

God’s people were in want and God brought them manna. This longing and hunger tested the people in obedience and trust in the Lord. How would they respond? Would they turn to God in their hunger and pain or turn to idolatry, longing for the enslavement that provided them with physical nourishment, yet shackled them, robbing them of their freedom? The wilderness revealed the state of their hearts, and God was faithful despite the sin and failings of his people.

The Value of Corporate Fasting

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?

Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber.

Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” — Joel 2:12-17 (ESV)

Fasting for Jesus' Presence


Monday, August 19, 2019

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.”
— Mark 2:18-20, ESV

When was the last time you went to a wedding? What do you remember most? Who were the people getting married? Who were the other guests?

Weddings are feasts and celebrations. We hope that the weddings we attend are ones that involve people we love and fully support in their unions. We hope that we can celebrate with the bride and groom wholeheartedly. But, even in the cases where we may have mixed feelings, the wedding is still always a celebration and a feast. The planning takes months, and food and drink are in abundance. It would be strange and even inappropriate to refuse to eat at a wedding. It would either show disrespect for the hospitality given or grave disapproval of the union of the two people.

God’s Promise to Revive Those Who Turn to Him

Sunday, August 18, 2019

God’s love towards us is intense and illogical. The demonstration of God ‘SO’ loving His world was on full display when Jesus, the sinless son of God, paid the ultimate penalty of sin on behalf of a willfully disobedient humanity condemned to death. The life-giving blood of Jesus is offered freely to anyone who wants to be saved and restored to an intimate relationship with God.

Around 750 years before Jesus, a young prophet named Hosea was called to enact God’s unrequited love for the nation of Israel. Hosea’s humiliating assignment was to live out in real life the role of a jilted lover. God’s outrageous command to this righteous prophet was to wed Gomer, a common prostitute. The marriage was filled with pain. Hosea had to love his wife through her wanton adulterous living. God is portrayed through Hosea as a faithful husband who is deeply wounded and betrayed but remains committed to Gomer despite her cheating. Gomer represents the nation of Israel.

Laurel Copp
Christian Union Ministry Fellow
Brown University

SlowDown

When was the last time you couldn’t fall asleep because your mind was racing, and you couldn’t slow down your thoughts? Or you woke up in the middle of the night, shaken out of sleep because of something which had not gone right that day or because of some worry for the upcoming day? I often wonder, when all I need is to slow down and rest, why am I awake with my mind running so fast?

When this happens, one trick my father taught me as a kid is to quote, in order, the Psalms (or, let’s be honest, maybe just remember a snippet from some of them) until you fall asleep. Granted, this is a lot easier to do if you grew up in a church tradition that sings the Psalms regularly.  Nonetheless, the point of this trick is rest comes from being in God’s presence through His word and prayer.

Nehemiah’s Plea

Saturday, August 17, 2019

And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name…” — Nehemiah 1:2b-11 (ESV)

Whom Will God Revive?


Friday, August 16, 2019

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” — Isaiah 57:15

Isaiah saw that God’s people, the Israelites, had strayed far from God. They were living in disobedience to His will. They had turned their backs on God’s ways and had adopted their surrounding culture’s practices. In this chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy, God bluntly expressed his anger toward His people, calling them witch’s children, sons of adulterers and prostitutes, reminding them of their child sacrifices and pagan worship. God’s holiness could not ignore their wickedness. Their self-centered behavior, not unlike our modern culture, did not escape His sight or His judgement. God was angry!

Since fall 2017, Christian Union Ministry Director Tucker Else has been steadily gaining ground in his outreach to Quaker athletes, especially to members of the football team. Given their hectic training and academic schedules, Else offers flexible discipleship sessions to players.

Ministry Director Mentors Penn Football Players 

Since fall 2017, Christian Union Ministry Director Tucker Else has been steadily gaining ground in his outreach to Quaker athletes, especially to members of the football team. Given their hectic training and academic schedules, Else offers flexible discipleship sessions to players.

“Time is such a commodity,” said Else. “It’s pretty easy for these guys to live and sleep football and academics.”

For Else, ministry to athletes provides an opportunity for the sports enthusiast and son of a longtime coach to come full circle. Else played basketball at Northwestern College in Iowa after playing on both the basketball and football squads at Northern University High School in Cedar Falls.