Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Call to Repentance: WEEK EIGHT

March 2, 2008

"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:32)


This week, we continue to press in during WEEK EIGHT of the 40 Weeks of Prayer and Fasting, to offer prayers of repentance for the sin in the church, the sin in the nation, and the blessing of Israel.

We now address these areas:





(Ezekiel 8:3-5)

"These are the sayings of the wise: to discriminate and show partiality, having respect of persons in judging, is not good." (Prov. 24:23 AMP)

Because it is written that "judgment must first begin in the House of the LORD," according to I Peter 4:17, we yet turn our hearts unto Him to reveal the sins in our Church that are wounding the heart of the Father and giving ground for all other ills to take root in our society. So today, we turn to a topic that is not often addressed: the sin of racism. And perhaps this is one topic that is usually avoided because, to be honest, it is a painful one . . . with roots that go back to the very beginning of our nation's history.

The church in America, and the Body of Christ in America, is made up of many different ethnic groups with many different languages, cultures, and gifts. When it comes to the matter of race, we must love every brother and sister no matter what color their skin.

When God made man, He didn't make clones. He wanted every person to be unique with his or her own unique character, personality, talents and looks. God does not create junk, and God does not create by accident. Every person He creates has for a purpose and has a destiny in this life and in His world. And, in giving us free will, He allows us to choose our own path. Which one are we on? The "straight and narrow" that leads to heaven -- or the "wide path" that leads to hell and destruction?

Some of us may be bound with a hatred -- perhaps even subtly so -- due to the actions of previous generations. The article on slavery, below, demonstrates only a few of the atrocities that were visitied upon "Negroes" in the time of slavery . . . but hatred is a two-way street. "Their" hatred towards us can trigger "our" hatred towards them; and vice-versa.

Only Jesus Christ, through the work of the Cross and the atoning power of His Shed Blood, can fix this -- and He has! Let's allow His Grace to visit us and to free us from this vicious cycle of racial hatred -- on both sides of the fence. Let's lay axe to that root through His Shed Blood and in His Name, amen.

Let's learn from the past but not live in it. Let's fix our eyes upon Jesus -- the author and finisher of our faith; and find a new beginning, a new release, and a firm foundation in His grace, in His truth, and in His mercy . . . towards each other.


"Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another." (Romans 12:9-10)

· Lord God, we repent of any vestige of racist thinking in our own minds, and for racist policies that still exist in our nation and in our churches. We ask You to open our eyes that we might see the injustices that remain among us, and help us to learn how to correct these iniquities. In Jesus' Name, amen.

(Source: Riding with the King in Unity, by Giles F. Mack, P.O. Box 1761, Branson, MO 65615, pp. 20 - 23; adapted.



This week, we begin to consider an area of sin that is HUGE: the matter of African-American slavery and (next week) racism in America today. Once again, we can only "point the way" in the space below to an area for prayer; and we trust the Holy Spirit to take each of you into much, much more as you seek Him in intercession over this issue.

The following information is an excerpt from an article, "Conditions of Antebellum Slavery." Specific points for repentance are boldfaced in this article. Also, as we continue in this emphasis on African- American slavery, you may also wish to rent the movie "Roots," and offer repentance, point-by-point, over the many abuses of black men and women that are shown in that excellent movie.


By 1830 slavery was primarily located in the South, where it existed in many different forms. African Americans were enslaved on small farms, large plantations, in cities and towns, inside homes, out in the fields, and in industry and transportation.Though slavery had such a wide variety of faces, the underlying concepts were always the same. Slaves were considered property, and they were property because they were black. Their status as property was enforced by violence-actual or threatened. One of the worst conditions that enslaved people had to live under was the constant threat of sale. Immediate families were often separated. If they were kept together, they were almost always sold away from their extended families. Grandparents, sisters, brothers, and cousins could all find themselves forcibly scattered, never to see each other again.

The heat and humidity of the South created health problems for everyone living there. However, the health of plantation slaves was far worse than that of whites. Unsanitary conditions, inadequate nutrition and unrelenting hard labor made slaves highly susceptible to disease. Illnesses were generally not treated adequately, and slaves were often forced to work even when sick. The rice plantations were the most deadly. Black people had to stand in water for hours at a time in the sweltering sun. Malaria was rampant. Child mortality was extremely high on these plantations, generally around 66%-on one rice plantation it was as high as 90%.African American women had to endure the threat and the practice of sexual exploitation. There were no safeguards to protect them from being sexually stalked, harassed, or raped, or to be used as long-term concubines by masters and overseers. The abuse was widespread, as the men with authority took advantage of their situation. Even if a woman seemed agreeable to the situation, in reality she had no choice. Slave men, for their part, were often powerless to protect the women they loved.

Many slaves turned to religion for inspiration and solace. Some practiced African religions, including Islam, others practiced Christianity. Many practiced a brand of Christianity which included strong African elements. Most rejected the Christianity of their masters, which justified slavery. The slaves held their own meetings in secret, where they spoke of the New Testament promises of the day of reckoning and of justice and a better life after death, as well as the Old Testament story of Moses leading his people out of slavery in Egypt. The religion of enslaved African Americans helped them resist the degredation of bondage.

A Prayer of Repentance:

Father God, when we consider these genocidal sins, we can only come to You, our holy God and Father, to begin to cleanse this evil from our land. We ask You, Mighty God, the Author and the Finisher of our faith, to look down upon us now as we bring these sins to you, in weeping, in prayers, and in repentance for the evils our ancestors have committed against the African American people on our land. Father God, we ask You to have mercy upon us, and to show us Your ways in bringing healing to that which has been rooted and grounded in some of the vilest wickedness known to man.

We thank YOU for the promise of Your word over us now, out of Isaiah 1:18:

"Come now, let us reason together," saith the Lord. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool."





A Pattern of Escalation

Hamas' decision to put Ashkelon, and its 120,000 residents, within permanent range of their rockets from Gaza may turn out to have been a mistake on their part. A round of increased violence between Israel and Hamas takes place every two or three weeks. And each time, the latest round is more severe than the one preceding it. More than 30 rockets were fired at Israel Thursday, and close to 90 in the last two days. (Ha'aretz 2/28/08)

This week, Israel's top military commander warned that a major conflict with the Palestinians is drawing near. To understand why Israel is being pushed to the brink of war lets look at the numbers:

- If the current rate of Palestinian rockets and mortars continues to be shot at Israel, 4,800 will hit Israeli territory in 2008.

- Today, 190,000 Israelis live within the range of these weapons and are under direct threat.

- The number of Israelis killed or wounded by these weapons has steadily increased.

- To date, in 2008, there have been 31 Israeli victims. At this rate by year's end there will be over 250 Israelis killed or injured.

- Sderot has been on the receiving end of 45% of the rocket attacks. Ninety percent of Sderot residents have experienced a rocket on their street or an adjacent one.

For the past two days almost 100 missiles were fired at S'derot, other southern communities - and at Ashkelon. Israel wants to get the approval of the nations before she invades Gaza but may not have the liberty to wait as the death and severe injury toll of her citizens increases dramatically.


- Lord, despite the promises from President Bush, we reject America as being Israel's protector and proclaim that You - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - were, are and always will be Israel's strength and shield. (Psa. 28:7; 33:20; 115:9)

- Abba, please give Israel's leaders much wisdom as they try to deal with this situation. "For by wise counsel you shall make war: and in multitude of counselors there is safety." (Proverbs 24:6)

- Allow the plans of the IDF's (Israeli Military) Chief of Staff Ashkenazi - to terrorize the terrorists. According to Your Word, let Hamas reap the harvest of terror they have sown: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7)

- Pray that Israel receive a deep revelation from God concerning who He is and who we (Israelis) are as a nation and people in His sight.

- We take comfort in the truth of this verse: "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, his eyes, that he may see. And LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and . . . behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." (2 Kings 6:16-17; see also 2 Chronicles 32:7-8)

- Thank You for the Israel Defense Force (IDF) Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Protect him from all political ambitions and surround him with wise counsel. (Prov. 20:18; 24:6)

(Source: Intercessors for Israel)

A Closing Thought . . .

Charles Finney on Slavery . . . and the Church

The 19th century revivalist and 2nd president of Oberlin College, Charles Finney, wrote of the national sin of slavery in his Systematic Theology (1851):

No generation before us ever had the light on the evils and wrongs of slavery that we have: hence our guilt exceeds that of any former generation of slave - holders; and moreover, knowing all the cruel wrongs and miseries of the system from the history of the past, every persisting slave - holder endorses all the crimes, and assumes all the guilt, involved in the system, and evolved out of it, since the world began.

Finney's words surely apply to the justification of abortion, homosexuality, pornography, and other sins today. Finney's answer:

The Church must take right ground in regards to politics. The time has come for Christians to vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of a religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to their country as a part of their duty to God. God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.

(Source: American Quotations, Bill Federer).