August 11, 2020
1 Timothy 2:1-7
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.  And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
New International Version (NIV)
Extreme times bring out extreme language.  Preachers are the worst culprits!  We use words like “greatest, most tragic, and best ever” to try to convey the importance of our points.  After a while the overuse of the superlatives, like “best, most, greatest” tend to devalue the currency of language.  So I am skeptical when anyone says, “Best ever . . .” or “most important.”  For instance I hear people say, “This is the most important election in my lifetime.”  I struggle with that statement because in my 58 years and 40 years of voting I have heard it before, more than once.  Without question elections are important, including this one.  Christians should vote.

In Paul’s day the position of being in charge of governments was not decided by popular vote.  A Roman Emperor ruled from the top down.  Paul witnessed emperors become increasingly hostile to Christianity because Christians would not worship the emperor.  He even told the Christians in the Roman colony of Philippi, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”  As a Roman citizen, and a Hebrew by birth, Paul declared his highest allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.  So how did he relate to the government?  He prayed. 

The words, “I urge, then, first of all,” show how important it is for believers to pray for our leaders.  The first time I ever saw Mary Poythress, she looked me in the eyes and said, “Do you pray for our president?”  No, “Hello, I’m Mary...”  She caught me up short but I collected myself and said, “I do pray for our president.”  As the years roll on, I pray for our presidents more and more.  Why should we pray?  Paul offers a couple of important thoughts:  first, so that Christians may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  If rulers did their job well, Christians could practice their faith. 

But Paul offers an even greater reason to pray:  God wants all people to come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  The government cannot make that happen.  Each person has freedom of conscience and may voluntarily choose to accept or reject Christ.  If the government made everybody become a Christian, then nobody would actually be a Christian.  To be clear:  the Christian goal is not just to elect a government that makes bad people act better and leave good people alone.  Our first goal is to win all people to personal relationship with Christ.  So we need the freedom to proclaim Christ without interference.  Simultaneously, we allow others to freely choose or reject Christ.

What if Christians saw all of life through the lens of how to best represent Christ so that others will want to follow him, too?  Would we be angry at people who disagree with us?  Would we want them to go away?  Would we want the government to control others?  Or, in love, would we live out our faith in winsome ways that made them ask the reason for the hope we have?  We should definitely pray.  It seems like the most important thing we can ever do.

Pray with me:         
Father, we thank you for our government.  It is not perfect.  We are so glad that you are perfect, though. So we pray for all of our leaders to come to know you as personal Savior and Lord.  We pray that the gospel will go forth.  Help us not to give our highest energy and emotions away to things that last four or eight years.  Instead, refocus your people on the eternal.  Help us to keep the main thing, the main thing.  And the main thing is knowing you and making you known to others.  Give us the grace to do these things well.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 
Join us in memorizing the Word.  Scripture for this week:    
Matthew 6:22-24
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Our 2020 Every Day with Jesus readings will follow the Foundations New Testament reading plan.  Copies of the reading plan are available at Tallowood Baptist Church, or download your copy at REPLICATE.ORG 
We would love for you to join us as we read the New Testament through this year, five chapters a week.  In addition I will continue my long-standing practice of reading one Psalm a day through the year.  Use Robby Gallaty’s H. E. A. R. plan to study each chapter (also found at REPLICATE.ORG). Highlight verses which speak to you, explain what they mean in your own words in a journal, apply them to your own life, then respond by doing what God tells you to do.  

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