21 Days of Prayer (Day #10)

“Thank you for this 21 day journey. I am one who does not fast well, and I have never been moved to do it, but I was reminded that there are other types of fasts. I for one have now been convicted that I consume far too much political junk food all day. Time for a fast from a chunk of that! Time to re-sort those things.” These are the words from a text I received yesterday morning and used with permission. What rejoicing it brought to my heart! This believer gets it!

Yesterday’s reading took me to Nehemiah 1-2. Nehemiah receives news from Hanani concerning the destruction in Jerusalem. The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire (1:3). He had known some facts of the situation before, but this detailed firsthand account moved him in a powerful way. In verse 4 we read, So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

There are two things that I want you to get from this today.

First of all, note the descriptive words of 1:4. Nehemiah was broken. Indeed, we should be driven and motivated to prayer by the love God has for us and the love of Christ in us, but are you driven to prayer because you are broken over the destruction caused by your own sin, rebellion, pride, disobedience and unbelief? Please catch that as Nehemiah prays (1:5-11), he doesn’t use the pronouns “they” or “you.” He includes himself by the use of “I” and “we.” So much so, you read in 1:6-7, Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. If we are to see a move of God at BCBC, His INCREASE (1 Corinthians 3:7-8), we must be broken!!

Consider something with me, please. Have you ever been so burdened in prayer that you cried out to God in verbal anguish of heart and soul? Did the tears course down your cheeks? Did you find yourself groaning, aching over the burden, weeping over sin, responding in such a fashion as we see with Nehemiah, David (Psalm 34:17-18; 51:1-17), and Jesus (Luke 22:44)?

You see, prayer doesn’t lead you to brokenness until your pride and preferences die (Romans 6). Jesus said, Not MY will but Thine be done (Luke 22:42). “MY” will must die before it is resurrected into “THY” will. This is the power of the cross and the resurrection. Death to self; alive to Christ in you (Galatians 2:20).

Second of all, please note that Nehemiah fasted. Remember, the purpose of fasting is for a Christ-centered, biblical purpose. My challenge to you this week is to set aside whatever will remind you, “I’m giving this up so I can spend time before the Lord in prayer.” For instance, if it is giving up a meal, when you want to eat, let the hunger pain remind you of the greater need of prayer! If you are giving up social media for a week, every time you want to check Facebook, let that be a reminder to pray for God’s increase at BCBC, for lost souls to be saved, and for revival among our church family.

Brokenness and fasting—two important ingredients too often missing in the believer’s life of prayer. Today, let’s . . .

  • Read the passages of Scripture given in today’s prayer challenge and answer the questions. Will you be broken?
  • Consider what needs to be set aside this week in fasting in order to be more aware of the need of prayer and the presence of Christ in you.

21 Days of Prayer (Day #6)

God’s Sovereign Compassion in the Midst of Man’s Decisions. (Pastor Andrew)

The book of Jonah is quite an interesting book because there are so many interesting literary uses by the author. For instance God’s prophet, Jonah, twice is willing to be killed but the pagan sailors and the people of the sinful city are found worshipping God after they are spared from death. The pagan sailors and the people of Nineveh worship Jonah’s God. Jonah prays in the whale and most likely repents. However, his actions do not back up his repentance in the chapters following his prayer. He gets angry about the plant dying that covered him, but he cared less about the sailors, people of Nineveh and animals dying. 

Several times the phrase “go down” is used.  He went down into the ship, down to Joppa, down into the fish. Several uses of personification are used as well. In verse 4 the original reflects that the ship was thinking or considering breaking up. It is a very interesting book that uses several literary devices in order to help the reader have certain characteristics of the story emphasized in certain ways

We need to see this theme in Jonah:  God’s sovereign compassion in the midst of man’s decisions.

Think about all the moves Jonah made and then the moves God makes sovereignly:

  • God’s prophet runs.
  • God brings pagan sailors to himself because of Jonah running.

  • Jonah runs.
  • God creates a storm and prepares a fish to be on call to swallow Jonah.

  • Jonah delivers an 8 word message.
  • God uses that 8 word message to bring an entire pagan city to repentance toward God.

  • Jonah sat outside the city to watch the explosion of the city (popcorn and soda in hand).
  • God builds a plant then destroys it with a worm.

God’s Compassion to the sailors. Those poor sailors they have to throw out all the cargo. How are they shown compassion? It could have been worse they could have died even though they were pagan. Pagan sailors acknowledged Gods sovereignty and they feared him with a great fear and offered him sacrifice and gave vowels. They may have really truly come to God.

God’s Compassion to Nineveh. Nineveh is described as a great city that has great wickedness, but God doesn’t destroy them.

God’s Compassion toward Jonah. He spares his life. He also gives Jonah shade. More than anything He shows great mercy even though Jonah is opposing God’s will for his life.

Here is the application for us. God uses wicked and sinful people to accomplish his purposes, like us. He is God and we are not. Often we seek our own wills rather than the will of God. We believe our decisions surpass God’s, so we sin.  However, even when we seek our own will God is continuously compassionate and merciful to us.  He sovereignly overcomes our bad decisions and works good through us. We can be condemning, critical, selfish, and uncompassionate to people around us. Consider the key verses of the book of Jonah which are 4:10-11, And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Asked another way, Isn’t God a better decision maker than you because His character is better than yours? Who is the god of your life, you or Him?

Prayer Questions

  • Are there any Christians I will not forgive?
  • Are there any unbelievers I refuse to love?
  • Is there anything in my life that I am choosing my sovereignty over God’s?
  • Are there any current events that I am struggling to entrust to God over what I think should happen?
  • Who do I need to pray for asking God to bring them to salvation?
  • Talk to God about how you have seen his sovereignty in your decisions recently or in the past.
  • Praise the Lord for his specific acts of compassion and rulership to you over the past years.
  • Specially praise God for the Gospel where He has shown His Lordship and compassion in your life!

Are You Listening?

Is COVID-19 the judgment of God? We do not know nor can we know without reservation from Scripture. It may be, but God does not say so. Now, Matthew 24:7-8 speaks of the signs of the times in reference to the first half of the tribulation. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Certainly, the coronavirus could be characterized by pestilences, but we cannot say it is a judgment of God in 2020.

So, what then is COVID-19 saying to us? Echoing back to Matthew 24:7-8, it is a reminder that such a day is coming; that the tribulation (Revelation 6-18) will occur. Above all, COVID-19 is God speaking to us and calling us to repentance.

Note these words recorded in Luke 13:1-5, There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

How easy it is for us to look at others in world as worse sinners than we are and say, “God is judging them!” Note that Jesus goes right on by that scenario and calls everyone to repentance, I tell you, . . . unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Unbeliever, wake up to the fact that unless you repent, turn from anything and everything you have been believing in for salvation, you will perish. Jesus says, I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

Is COVID-19 the judgment of God? Can’t say, but it is the mercy of God giving you, sinner friend, another opportunity to repent and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior! Don’t delay!

For information on how you can become a genuine follower of Christ, please watch the following: