God's Love for Our Cities, Part 3

God’s Love for Our Cities, Part 4

Every generation faces difficult times and seasons. During suffering and hopelessness, the Church shines brightly through Jesus’ love and His presence. We live from our new life in Him. He is the Light of the world, and so are we by His grace and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are citizens of Heaven, while living on Earth! We help influence this earthly realm with God’s love, presence, and power.

We have an inheritance that will not fade, diminish, or be taken from us. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, as a guarantee, of our eternal inheritance. No force in heaven or on earth can take that from us!

Our world needs a confident, radiant, Church full of hope in this hour! A psychological principle: those with the most hope have the most influence.

God’s Love and Mercy for Our Cities

Every city is unique and has its own personality—just like every person is unique. Just like there are no two of you, there are no two cities the same—each unique.

Consider what Paul wrote about the motivational gifts in Romans:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8 NIV

A motivational gift is the grace of God woven into who we are. Usually, a combination for most of us, but our God-given motivation and orientation.

The seven Motivational Gifts in Romans 12:6-8 are:

Perceiver (Prophetic)—Design, insight, truth, justice, rights, honor

Server—Authority, dominion, platform, faithful, cleansing, strength

Teacher—Mentor, approachable, trust, responsible, knowledgeable

Exhorter—Encouragement, power, energy, party, humor, fun, gravity

Giver—Stewardship, nurture, tactile, seasonal, wealth, resources.

Leader—cast vision, inspire action, direction

Comforter (Mercy)—shows forgiveness, compassion, empathy, care

God’s plan for each city is also unique. Just as He created people with different gifts and potential to bring about the Kingdom, He also created each city with its own divine purpose.

Satan’s strategy also knows our weaknesses and attempts to hold us in bondage in those areas of our lives. In like manner, his strategy is unique to our cities. As we understand the enemy’s strategies against our cities, we can pray more effectively.

Throughout the Bible, we see that cities were often a focal point for God’s blessing or judgment.

Cities like Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh, and Babylon—each had the opportunity to repent and to receive God’s mercy before judgment came. God sent the prophet Jonah to Nineveh to call the city to repentance. From the day that Jonah arrived and began preaching, the people responded with repentance and changed behavior. God withheld judgment on that city for 186 years! He desires mercy, not judgment!

Consider Jesus’ declaration in Matthew regarding known cities of the time,

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Matt. 11:21 NKJV

Perhaps the greatest example of God’s love and mercy toward a city is Jerusalem. Throughout the Bible, God’s passion for this sacred city is clearly revealed. The prophets not only prophesied about the city, but to the city!

Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the Lord…” Isa. 51:17 NKJV

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget it’s skill!” Ps. 137:5 NKJV

Consider what Jesus declared over the city,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” Luke 13:34 NLT

Not only did God send prophets to speak to a city, but He also sent those to minister to the physical needs of the city. Ezra was to rebuild the Temple and Nehemiah the wall. We are not only called to pray for our cities, but to help serve to restore them according to God’s order and plan.

While Jerusalem is only Jerusalem, Tucson is only Tucson! God loves all cities—even those who have gone astray from God’s original purpose.

God desires to see our cities whole and healthy, and the strategies of Satan dismantled to remove the hindrances to the gospel of Christ and the advancement of His Kingdom.

Cities are important to God because they contain so many people. When there is an open heaven over a city, many come to Christ. God created cities with purpose and destiny. Each city has a unique purpose or DNA, just like each of us does.

John Dawson, the former President of Youth with A Mission, author, and church leader. He is founder of the International Reconciliation Coalition, a global network dedicated to healing wounds between people groups and elements of society, in his book Taking our Cities for God writes,

I believe God intends the city to be a place of shelter, a place of communion, and a place of personal liberation as its citizens practice a division of labor according to their own unique gifts. I believe our cities have the mark of God’s sovereign purpose upon them. Our cities contain what I call a redemptive gift.” [1]

Redemptive Gifts, or Motivational Gifts, are a study of the gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8. Some studies were done by Bill Gothard, Doug and Katie Fortune, and Arthur Burk, to name a few.

Definition of the word redemptive: (adjective) acting to save someone from error or evil. For example, “the healing power of redemptive love.” Another example is Alcoholics Anonymous, which is a redemptive social movement. It seeks to help an alcoholic to stop drinking, which changes their whole life.

According to author and minister Arthur Burk,

The redemptive gifts (Romans 12:6-8 – prophet, servant, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler, & mercy), the gifts tend to shape our personality and the way we may then receive one or more of the manifestation gifts. A redemptive gift is the grace of God woven into who we are…”

The redemptive gifts also fit cities, churches, states, and institutions. The state of Minnesota is redemptive gift of giver (lakes/birthing). USA as a whole is prophet (creativity/design/comes first in culture). The cities of Princeton/Zimmerman/Elk River, I believe are Teacher/Servant/Giver. Any business or church also has a main redemptive gift.  Once this is clear, the destiny will be made much more clear.”

Applying this to cities, Jerusalem was ordained by God to be a city of peace and praise. Instead, it has become a place of conflict where God’s character is continually being misrepresented through religious controversy.

Consider the city of Amsterdam. Known for centuries for its hospitality and tolerance. It is a genuine city of refuge, much like Geneva or the cities of the Levites in the Old Testament. Today, it’s known as a city of legal drug sales and use, and legal prostitution. It’s a perversion of the gift of the city.

Again, there is a psychological principle that he who gives the greatest hope gains the greatest influence. Politicians use this for elections. However, in love and truth, Christians need to use this principle to help restore individuals and cities. Remember the promise to exiled Israel in Jeremiah, “… thoughts of peace … to give you a future and a hope.” Jer. 29:11

Why is our city here? Is it merely a product of geography and commerce, or does God have a redemptive purpose in mind for it?

We must see that Tucson (or the city you live in) is God’s city and that the people here are made in His image. Satan is an invader and a usurper operating in our territory. God did not give demons authority over our city. Satan and the demonic realm have infested the earth’s atmosphere, but they can only extend their authority into a town or an institution when people sin.

According to Dawson,

When you look into the history of our cities, we find clues as to what is oppressing the people. This is our planet, and the only authority Satan has is stolen human authority. He initially gains this authority when, at some point in history, human beings believe his lie, receive his accusation, and are seduced into an allegiance to his plan.” [2]

What DNA, what personality, and what redemptive gift does Tucson have?

When we look at the earliest inhabitants of Tucson, we see that the O’odham lived here. They were hunter-gatherers that also farmed along the Santa Cruz River. They called Tucson “S-cuk son” which meant “at the foot of black mountain.” They were a peaceful people, gleaning from the land, and from the Santa Cruz.

In 1690 Jesuit priest father Kino arrived, one of the first Europeans to contact the O’odham (although some historians record other Catholics nearly one hundred years earlier arriving here). He and other Catholic priests were committed to bringing Christianity to the native Americans and winning them to Christ. Later in 1775 a site near S-cuk son was chosen for the Tucson presidio.

In 1821, Mexico gained its independence from Spain and in 1854 after the Gadson Purchase, Tucson became an American city. During the 1860’s-1880’s frequent bloody confrontations with the Apache’s occurred here. In 1880 the railroad came, and everything began to change.

Tucson was a peaceful community that was family-minded, serving one another, and prosperous. They were nurtured by the river and the land. Christian influence occurred from the beginning as Europeans arrived. Eventually, the spiritual climate changed and the redemptive purpose of this city and region was perverted.

Today, instead of Peace – Murder; Family & Community – Individualism & Independence; Fruitfulness & Prosperity – Greed, plunder, barrenness; Christian Evangelism – Religious Formalism; Rest & Healing – Fatigue & Sickness; Lush River – Dry Washes. But, these dynamics can change!

Changing the Spiritual Atmosphere Over Our Cities

(Adapted from Dawson’s book, Taking Our Cities for God)  

Rebuild the Redemptive Gift of the City

Is. 58:12 “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” NKJV

The spirits that hinder our cities have power, but they are not invincible. They’re vulnerable, and, if we move wisely, we can them brought under the authority of Christ.

1) Begin with worship and praise.

Everything born of God goes through a very natural process: worship, conception, gestation, travail, and birth. So always begin with worship. It’s in the place of thanksgiving and praise that God conceives within us His mind and heart for our city.

Ps. 48:1-2 “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised In the city of our God, In His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, The joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, The city of the great King.” NKJV

What is your attitude toward Tucson? Are you always complaining about it, traffic, economy, city government, etc.? Don’t agree with the accuser, be grateful! Be thankful, praise God for this city. Release a heart of praise and worship here, let your light shine!

Consider declaring over this region:

the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose … It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing … They shall see the glory of the LORD, The Excellency of our God … For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water … A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness…” Isa. 35 NKJV

You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah and your land Beulah; For the LORD delights in you, And your land shall be married…” Isa. 62 NKJV

2) Wait on the Lord for insight and prophetic strategy.

Don’t rely on finite reasoning or human cunning. If we listen to God with childlike dependency, He will guide us into victory. Through united prayer, waiting on the Lord giving Him room to move – He moves. This was an important factor during the Azusa Street Revival and is a characteristic of every divine visitation in history.

3) Identify with the sins of the city.

The great intercessors of the Bible all approached God with a sense of brokenness over their nations and cities. Intercession is not an escape from reality, but is rooted in the truth about our society. The intercessor experiences the broken heart of God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The intercessor also identifies with the sin of the people. In responding to the broken heart of God, we must identify with the sins of the city in personal and corporate repentance.

When Nehemiah prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem, he did not pray for the city as if he were not part of it. He said, “I and this people have sinned.” (Neh. 1:6-7)

You may be a righteous person who is not involved with the sin that is present in our city. However, we can all identify with the roots of sin. When we ask for God’s mercy on others, we should never say, “How could they do such a thing?” Sin nature of man, and unless we are yielded to the Spirit, we could fall victim to sin. It is only by the blood of the Lamb and the power of the Spirit that we stand free, cleansed, and made righteous. It’s from His righteousness that we can intercede.

The captivity of Jerusalem broke Daniel’s heart when he realized the 70 years of captivity had elapsed, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” (see Dan. 9:1-19)

Prayer and fasting are vital elements in dethroning demonic powers that oppress us and our cities. “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29 NKJV)

During America’s First Great Awakening, minister Jonathan Edwards declared,

If we are not to expect that the devil should go out of a particular person, that is, under a bodily possession, without extraordinary prayer, or prayer and fasting, how much less should we expect to have him cast out of the land and the world without it?”

4) Overcome evil with good character and with good works.

Is the enemy tempting us to be fearful and stingy? Let’s come against greed with hilarious generosity! Overcome pride with humility, lust with purity, fear with faith, and lethargy with diligence. When we come against the enemy, we by faith manifest the aspect of Christ’s character that is the opposite of the temptation facing us.

We should be outreach-minded. Servant-driven. How can we reach the lost? How can we minister to the poor? How can we minister to the city? We should be going about doing the works of Jesus. When we are setting people free, we are dethroning the enemy (Luke 10:17-20: “Lord even the demons are subject to us … I saw Satan fall …”)

5) Travail until birth.

Like labor, there are times God stirs us to seasons of intense prayer (travail). We must travail in prayer until God’s purposes are birthed. That which is conceived of God will eventually come to birth. When we corporately are in this place together, revival is close at hand!

When you truly care about someone, you don’t just pray a little. You pray until the answer comes, until there is breakthrough. Love settles for nothing less than victory.

If you are praying for a family member who is in bondage, you are not released from the burden until that person is saved, set free, and set in order. This is the way we should pray for our cities. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matt. 7:7 NKJV)

Will you and I be prepared to pay the price for victory over our cities? To commit where God has placed us? To pray, bless, and serve others?

There is a high price to be paid in personal discipline, prayer, and obedience.

Jesus came to reveal the Father, to atone for us, and to teach us how to live. He also came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has commissioned us to do likewise. Business as usual is not good enough. God has much more in mind.

Are our expectations of God too low?

Are we participating in the sin of unbelief when we entertain despair or indifference over the moral, environmental, social, and spiritual needs of our cities? The power of the gospel has radically impacted the life of cities for nearly 2,000 years, but most importantly our cities must become places of harvest!


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For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “God’s Love for Our Cities, Part 4”


[1] John Dawson, Taking Our Cities for God (Creation House: Lake Mary, FL, 1989), 39.

[2] Dawson, Taking Our Cities, 79-80.

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