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1 posts from May 2009

05/21/2009

Doing a great work and can't come down!

I experienced a rare privilege today as the speaker at London's Christian Prayer breakfast. About 500 people from various walks of life (political, business, church) gathered for inspiration and prayer. What made this somewhat intimidating for me is that I am the first "local" speaker  the city has had for this breakfast. Usually we bring in someone to speak to the city. It was a rare honor to share with my "peers". I suppose currently I am local, in a short while I won't be so local!!!

I felt prompted to share on two themes. The first is that God is a God of cities. So often when we think of spiritual things we think of rural images. We don't put Bible verses on posters with big cities, we use rivers, waterfalls and flowers. We leave the city for a spiritual retreat. People don't usually come to a city for a retreat. When we think of scripture, it starts in a garden. But then we see it ends in a city. It ends with the new Jerusalem. Between the garden and new Jerusalem, we read how when the people of God become gripped with God, they also become gripped with impacting their city.  Through Jesus we see impacted lives. God used Joseph in the midst of a city. David built a city. Solomon grew a city. Esther spared the people of her city. Rahab met the Israelites in a city. Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. And it is in the city, as well as the country, only Jesus can give hope and change lives.

I love this quote from Spurgeon, the great 19th preacher about the church capturing God's heart for the city.

A church …which does not exist to do good in the slums, and dens, and kennels of the city, is a church that has no reason to justify its longer existing. A church that does not exist to reclaim heathenism, to fight with evil, to destroy error, to put down falsehood, a church that does not exist to take the side of the poor, to denounce injustice and to hold up righteousness, is a church that has no right to be.

As we had gathered to pray for the city, it made to sense to talk about the power of prayer for a city. Jeremiah is a classic biblical example of how one person can make a difference praying for the city.  Nehemiah is as much a prayer journal of a leader as anything.  He is burdened with helping the city and as he prays, God opens up many opportunities.  In 55 short days, the city is completely rebuilt. One of my favorite verses in Nehemiah is when he is building the wall, and Sanballat (his enemy) wants to have a meeting with him, largely to distract him from what he is doing. And Nehemiah says...I am carrying on a great work and cannot come down.  (Nehemiah 6:3)  Jesus did a great work on the cross and even though people urged him to call the angels and come down...he wouldn't. He was doing an important work. He didn't come down, but stayed there for you and I.

God calls you and I to a great work of sharing Jesus with people whose lives are broken, battered, bruised and hurting. It's a great work, so great, we can't come down. May God give us perseverance, determination and strength. Bold prayers, for bold determination.