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We are living in tense days-days that remind us of our need to pray. We pray to God, asking Him to intervene on behalf of those we know who have willingly placed themselves in harm's way to defend democracy, their country and to make a preemptive strike against evil. Because of the number of military personnel who attend our church, we all know and love people who are in the theater of operation right now, and most of us have good friends or even family members who could be there soon. That makes this war personal for most of us.
But not only is it a personal war, it is also a personalized war. With the presence of embedded journalist, this war is playing out on television screens around the world in real time. Frankly, I'm not comfortable watching war images from a tank cam-there are some things that I just don't want to see. I don't feel like I need this much information about the war, so as much as possible, I'm carrying on with my life and digesting the news of the war by watching recaps on the news, glancing at some of the 24-hour coverage or reading headlines on the Internet.
Because this war is so personal I find constant reminders around me to pray. Certainly because of my friends who are over there, and because I have a son that proudly wears a uniform now, but also because of one of our missionaries whose family's picture hangs on my wall right behind my desk. He is an undercover missionary near the war zone. I made a promise to him that I'd pray for his family whenever I look at his picture-a promise I've kept. But lately, I've been drawn to the picture and find myself in constant prayer for him and his family. Are they safe? What impact will this war have on their work? If they left their country, will they be able to return?
I find myself claiming Psalm 37:28 for this family, "For the Lord loves justice, And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever; But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off." (NASB) While I know this verse does not guarantee this family is safe, it is a comfort to me as I pray for them.
Yet, I also know that there are times when God allows people to suffer and die for their beliefs. Good men-men like Stephen. Acts 7:58-60 says, "And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!'  And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them!' And having said this, he fell asleep." (NASB)
While I am quick to acknowledge that having correct beliefs and being a good person will not shield a person from all wickedness, I also know that God never sleeps-there is never a time that He is not watching, and even in war He keeps a firm grip on the heavens and earth. His providence remains in tact, even when wicked men and the terror they leave in their wake reign, on earth. I know our God protects His people. He is the deliverer. Psalm 91:3 says, "For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper, And from the deadly pestilence." (NASB) Nothing happens that God doesn't allow or permit.
Which immediately raises a question, why doesn't God stop evil things from happening? Go home and think about that question-talk about it with your family and friends. Come back tonight, and we'll discuss it further.
This morning, our focus is not on the times that God chooses not to
act, but on the times He chooses to intervene. Like He did for Kenneth
and Joyce Nicholson in 1990. The Nicholson's are retired missionaries Thank
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