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  • Writer's pictureJim Hays

Troublesome Times

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

For many of us, the events of the past week were so much “same old/same old”. Iran hates America. America’s not too fond of Iran, either. Iran has been killing Americans and attacking American embassies for years. Most of the time, it’s been tit-for-tat. They attack an embassy. We lob a missile.

In 1998, Al-Qaeda attacked U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 200 and injuring another 4,000. Bill Clinton responded by destroying an aspirin factory in Afghanistan.

Going back even further, many of us remember Iran’s taking of 52 American hostages in 1979-80. Jimmy Carter’s failed rescue attempt probably cost him the 1980 election. On the very day Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as president, Iran released the hostages. Perhaps they saw Reagan as no one to mess with.

Prior to this most recent kerfuffle, I saw a news story claiming that Iranian president Rouhani, Chinese president Xi, and Russian president Putin were getting chummy. To me, that’s something to be concerned about.

The question is, what’s the church’s position about all this global unrest? I think Paul would say that the correct position of the church is kneeling. Pray about this situation. Pray for Trump. Pray for Rouhani and Ayatollah Khomeini. Pray for cool heads and ultimate peace.

Our God is a God of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). Jesus the Messiah is our Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). The Father sent His Son into the world during the Pax Romana, a time of relative peace under the Roman Empire. Following Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation, peaceful times allowed the gospel to spread and the church to flourish.

When conflict arose between the church and the Empire, God’s people did not take up arms to fight. Instead, they prayed.

I don’t know how often you pray for Austin mayor Adler and the city council. If any city needs prayer, it’s Austin. Are we praying for Buda mayor Ruge, Kyle mayor Mitchell, and Governor Abbott? Are we praying for Chuck, Scott, Powell, Roland, and Don as they shepherd the church at Southern Hills?

Who are we praying for? In preparing this week’s sermon, I made a list of folks we are commanded to pray for. It's not exhaustive, but here’s the list we’ll consider this Sunday morning. We are to pray for …

• Our enemies (Matt. 5.44)

• Our leaders (1 Tim. 2.2)

• The lost (Matt. 9.38)

• The saints (Eph. 6.18)

• The physically sick (Jas. 5.14-15)

• The spiritually sick (1 Jn. 5.16)

• Ourselves (Gal. 6.9)

Are we doing this? Are we praying at all? The new year is always a great time to get started. Find a quiet place, read some of God’s word, contemplate the things of God, and then talk to Him. Pray for all of the above and others who are on your heart.

And don’t forget that last one—pray for yourself. Ask God to give you a heart that really cares about all those other people on your prayer list—and a heart that really does love Him.

“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).

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