As a church we've embraced a rhythm of fasting for three days each Fall and while this rhythm always feels inconvenient when it comes around, God has never failed to meet us in His mercy and power as we've sought Him. Fasting together has become for us a sacred rhythm.
This particular fast, from 9/11 to 9/13, we've felt prompted to fast around the themes we find in the Book of Ezra, when Israel implored God for protection on their return journey from exile in Babylon. What drew my attention to the passage was the sense of a fast for a people on the move.
"Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him a safe journey for ourselves, our children and all our goods." 8:21
While Israel's context was unique, I resonate deeply with the desire for safe journey for our church as we multiply again to launch Southlands Chino, not to mention the recent church plant in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Just this week, we sent one team to build the orphanage in Mexico and another to re-build houses after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Jesus has called us to be a people on the move and we need His provision and protection for us, our children and our goods on this God-orchestrated journey.
Moreover, on the anniversary of 9/11 with continued threats to national security and with Hurricane Irma bringing untold devastation in its path, this fast is an appropriate time to implore God for His protection and intervention in extremely volatile times for our nation as a whole.
Brett McCracken, one of our pastors, has written a brilliant devotional guide for our Ezra fast, with practical wisdom for fasting and a daily theme to pray through personally in the mornings and evenings as we gather to pray. The themes are re-building, repentance and revival. If you did not get a hard copy this morning at one of our four communities, you can download it online from our website at www.southlands.net. We would love you to join us on this journey of seeking God together.
Finally, I love the humble confidence expressed by Ezra as he calls Israel to fast. "I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers to protect us...for the hand of our God is for good on all who seek Him, and the power of His wrath against all who forsake Him. So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty."
The Lord listens to the entreaties of His people and His hand is for good on all who seek Him. So then, let's seek Him.