Thursday, April 7, 2011

He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

1Tim. 2:1-6 NLT  
   1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

How should we who are surrendered and submitted to God through faith and trust in Jesus Christ conduct ourselves daily? Prayer, that's how!  Paul tells the believers at Galatia, and us as well to be men and women of prayer. Verse 1 says we should pray for 'all people.'  All people!  That might take a while. Especially if we pray with knowledge about each person. I suppose we could pray "Dear Lord, bless all people everywhere. . ." but I don't think that was what Paul had in mind here. We certainly can't pray for all people because we don't know all people. However, what IF we DID pray for each person we know? Time to start making a list?

How do we pray for each person we know? For starters, he says, we should be asking God to help them. We don't know what they might be facing in the immediate future, nor do they. But God does. And we are authorized to loose the power of God on their future according to His will. Next we can 'intercede for them.'  That means we can pray intense focused and long-term prayers for the circumstances we do know about. A young man named Chris, who sings with me in my church choir asked the choir to pray for him today for an 'unspoken' need. I heard the Spirit whisper that I should daily pray intently for Chris's need though I don't know what it involves. I do know Chris and I do know God's will for Chris' life-- to walk in peace and strength with God through faith in Christ. So that will be my intercessory prayer until I hear from him again.

Next, Paul says I should 'give thanks for them.'  I can give thanks for the people God has brought into my life. I can give thanks for people I have been permitted to see a need in their life to pray for because it gives me a chance to minister in Christ. I can give thanks for people who cause me harm, because it gives me a chance to demonstrate Christ's unconditional love to them and also a chance to rely upon God when all other hope is gone.

Next, Paul reminds me that among those "all people" I should pray for are the political leaders of my nation and other nations. Even when I do not agree with their politics and their policies, I am still instructed to pray for them.  I can pray that God will cause them to hear from Him and repent from worldly ways. I can pray for their protection. I can pray for their peace because if they are in peace then we have a greater chance of enjoying national peace.

Paul summarizes all this by pronouncing it good and pleasing to God. In the same sentence Paul reminds us that God wants everyone to be saved. So much for the misguided teaching that some people are destined not to be saved. God has proclaimed that they can be, if they choose to. The option is theirs. If anyone doubts this truth, review verse 6 that explains the purpose of Christ's sacrifice.  It involves 'everyone.'  Those are the 'everyone' that we should be praying for as well.

Your servant in Christ's Love

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