To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again”. Every time I turn around it seems that there is another crisis, mass murder or natural disaster in which to respond. Once again, tragedy has struck American soil in the shape of terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon.
The killers have been killed or captured and experts and pundits work to try and explain what happened and why. The “why” goes deeper than culture, deeper than religion, deeper than policies, money or any other reason we will hear about. Deeper than any reason is the simplest yet truest of all reasons: sin. We are all alike—fallen from grace. We are the broken breaking the broken.
The only hope for the deepest why, the deepest pain is found in Christ Jesus. It is in the Cross and Empty Tomb that we see darkness, selfishness, terror, sin and depravity overcome. However, we only personally overcome not as “we look within” but look to the “One who came to personally bear our sin and be crushed for our iniquities”.
So, in a time of uncertainty I can only be certain of God’s love and that it will never fail me. “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39 NIV)
See you on Sunday,
A few weeks ago I spoke with the men attending the April Brotherhood meeting about prayer. (Well, for full disclosure, I suspect the men would say I “preached” to them that night, and they are probably right!) I was talking specifically about praying for elected and appointed political leaders as described in 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
Here’s the passage: First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NASB)
The phrase “kings and all who are in authority” refers to political leaders. Today Paul might write “presidents, prime ministers, representatives, governors, mayors and all who are in authority.”
We see a similar admonition Paul made to the Christians who were living in Rome: Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it's God's order. So live responsibly as a citizen. (Romans 13:1 MESSAGE)
The apostle Peter wrote about this, too: Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. (1 Pet 2:17 NASB)
The bottom line is, we are called to pray for our political leaders. We may not agree with what they do; we may not “like” them; we may not have voted for them. But we are to pray for them.
And what are we supposed to pray for? Well, Paul tells us. We are to pray that the leaders work for peace (“tranquil and quiet life”) and “order” (“Insofar as there is peace and order, it is God’s order.”).
And why are we supposed to pray for them? Because “[a]ll governments are under God.”
I find it interesting that the government Paul knew consisted of an emperor who declared himself god and who was set on persecuting Christians (including Paul). Yet Paul admonished Timothy and those Christians living in Rome to obey the Roman laws. Paul understood that God allows civil government and, if the government can keep the peace, Christians have a chance to share the Gospel freely. When things are peaceful and tranquil and quiet, the Gospel can be shared, spread, preached.
Warren Wiersbe, former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago and Bible teacher for Back to the Bible, has written, “It is unfortunate that some Christians have the mistaken idea that the more obnoxious they are as citizens, the more they please God and witness for Christ. We must never violate our conscience, but we should seek to be peacemakers and not troublemakers.”
Proverbs 21:1 reads: The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. (NASB) In other words, God has the power to direct the decisions of our leaders -- even the bad ones. And when we pray, the power of God is unleashed.
So what can we do? What should we do?
Well, we need to work for peace and justice and equality. We need to speak out when we see a wrong committed. We need to stay informed about issues. We need to have an open hand and an open heart. And we need to encourage others to do the same.
But “first of all” (first) we need to pray. The very first thing we need to do is get on our knees and pray for our leaders -- our local leaders, our state leaders, our national leaders, the leaders of all countries. We need to ask God to give them wisdom, discernment, compassion. We need to pray that these leaders will work for peace and justice for all people. We need to pray that God’s will be done through these men and women. And we need to pray that we will be the kind of citizens who honor God by obeying His word.
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Something to consider, don’t you think?
Under His Direction, Mark
2013 FOOD DRIVE
The Lowder WMU group will be starting our food drive April 15 and it will run through June 15. We hope to collect 2013 food items to be divided between Fish, Oregon Hill Baptist Center, Church Hill Wellness Center and South Richmond Baptist Center. All types of food items are needed. Please remember to include child-friendly foods.
During the month of May, we will collect shampoo for Eastern Henrico County FISH.