Scripture is clear (Old and New Testaments) that caring for those in need is an essential part of biblical faith. This was/is especially true for widows and orphans, those unable to care for themselves (no family to care for them). [Note: Psm 68:5; Isaiah 1:17; Exo 22:22-24; Deu 14:28,29; Gal 2:9,10; Jas 1:27; Mat 25:32–46; Acts 6:1–3]
In this passage Paul addresses widows in general. According to John MacArthur this may include any woman left alone by divorce, desertion, imprisonment or death. She is suddenly left alone and is either without children to care for her or she is left with young children and unable to meet her family‘s needs. This is an untenable situation. The church must act with compassion.
Lord made my heart [the heart of my church] be always open and sensitive to the needs of those in desperate need.
Be an influence for Christ in your world (1Ti 4:6–10). #ImpactYourWorldForChrist
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
It is not a waste of time to patiently study and teach the truths of God’s word to those in your orb of influence. For sure, this will also nourish your faith as well. It is a waste of time to argue over other philosophical issues and empty rhetoric.
Train yourself, discipline yourself, to follow a path of godliness. That will have far better results eternally. Stay faithful to the living God in whom is our hope and salvation. Lord, use me to impact my orb of influence for all of life and eternity.
Be alert to false and deceptive teaching (1Ti 4:1-5). #NotAllThatGlittersIsGold #TestTheSpirits #WolvesInSheepsClothing
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Paul instructs Timothy to be alert to “teachers“ who stray away from the truth and follow deceptive spirits. They say one thing but do another and are not convicted of it. They make rules and disdain what is good, expressing their self-righteousness.
Believers should be reminded that everything God created is good. Believers are to evaluate all things being taught according to the word of God and prayer (see also 1Jn 4:1-3). Reject what is wrong according to God’s word. Embrace what is good as from God with thanksgiving. Lord, keep this duty sentry alert to any teaching that is contrary to your word and sound the alarm.
Live life in a godly manner; faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus (1Ti 3:14-16). #GodsPlanInANutshell #TheGospelOfRedemption
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
In this letter to Timothy, Paul outlines how the family of God, the household of faith (the Church) should conduct itself. He calls the Church the “pillar and foundation of the truth,” the gospel. That is, God became man in the flesh [Jesus] (John 1:1,2). He died to forgive the sins of men and was raised from the dead by the Spirit (Acts 2:22-24).
This Jesus was exalted before the heavenly hosts (Phi 2:9; Heb 1:6). His gospel was/is preached to the nations (Col 1:23) and believed for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Then Jesus ascended back into heaven in glory (Eph 4:9,10). This is God’s redemptive plan in a nutshell. Lord, may I live my life in a godly manner and faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus.
Be an instrument of God’s grace to others (1Ti 1:12-17). #HateSinLoveTheSinner #NoGreaterLove
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Rather than stand in judgment of all the sins of others (vv9–10), Paul acknowledges that he himself is a sinner, mercifully saved by God’s grace. Rather than stand in judgment of other people, Paul acknowledges that the grace and mercy of God toward him fills him with faith and love for others.
Through the eyes of Jesus Christ Paul can say that all, even he, have fallen way short of God’s glory (can’t live up to the law). But all men are eligible for the grace of God. Like Paul, It is NOT my job to stand in judgment of others. The law does that. It is my job to be an instrument of God’s love and grace towards others. It is my honor Lord, to be your instrument.
Stay True to the gospel message and alert to those who dilute it (1Ti 1:7). #TheTruthShallSetYouFree
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
There were those in the church at Ephesus (Jewish converts) who troubled the heart of the innocent. They were introducing that element of the law of Moses that held people in bondage to the law. They supposed, pridefully, that they would be the keepers of tradition in the Jewish faith. They consider themselves purists and were mixing the law and grace.
But this teaching was abhorrent to the gospel message. As Paul will point out to Timothy, they, “the teachers“, had no understanding at all about the purpose of the law. Lord, may I always “test the spirit” of what I am being taught (1Jhn 4:1). Does it line up with God‘s word?
Boldly raise your colours to proclaim the message of God’s redemption (Isa 66:19-20). #FlyYourColors #ProclaimTheGoodNews #ChristianWitness
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
God says that at the time of his judgment of his enemies, “[he] will perform a sign among them.“ It is not clear what the “sign” may be. But it will signal the salvation of his people – they will know it when they see it. In Isaiah, a “sign“ most always has to do with power that could only be attributed to the Divine activity of God (e.g. 7:11;11:12;18:3). Even the Messiah himself is given as a “sign.”
Whatever the sign, it’s effect will open the door to the remnant who survived God’s judgment. They will carry the message of God’s redemption to the world. Could this also be pointing to the time when the Apostles spread the Gospel to the known world? Perhaps this itself is the “sign.“* Or, could it be [according to the blogger] that every believer in Christ are themselves the “sign” of God’s redemptive message?
Lord, whatever the meaning of the “sign”, this old sentry will be flying the colours of God’s redemption in his life.
* For further explanation: Albert Barnes makes this comment: “The whole passage is so accurately descriptive of what occurred in the times when the gospel was first preached to the pagan world, that there can be little danger of error in referring it to those times.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Isaiah, Pg. 439)
The watchmen posted by God are to do their job of instructing the people; expressing God’s will in praise, thanksgiving, encouragement and warning. Silence is not an option. One role of the watchmen was to be a continual reminder to the people of the Lord God, so they might not forget God.
The voices of the watchmen, then and today (prophets, teachers and ministers of the most high God), were to be continually engaged with public prayer, praise and instruction. No silent sentries. Lord, this is my job: to speak FOR you into the lives of others and to speak TO you for the same.
For an expanded reading on the role of Watchmen and Women see these links in my blog:
Be for sure certain your name’s written in the Lamb’s book of forever life (Isa 62:2-4; Rev 2:17; 21:2). #EternalLife #NewNameWrittenDownInGlory #TheLambsBookOfLife
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
In Isaiah‘s prayer, it is revealed to Israel (and to every other nation) that once she has entered into the light of God‘s righteousness, she will get a “new name.” No longer will she be known as “Forsaken“ and “Desolate.” Her new name will be “God’s Delight, God’s Bride (intimate companion“ (see also Isa 56:5).
As it was and is for Israel, so shall it be for the Church Age. The Apostle John tells us that all who come into the righteousness of Christ will receive a “New Name” (Rev 2:17). That name is written in the Lamb’s book of forever life (Rev 21:27). Lord, how awesome it is for the faithful sentry to know that his/her name, “New Name,” is written down into the records of glory.
Isaiah leaves some further thoughts from nature. Consider the “mountains, hills, trees and fields.” They will sing and clap their hands joyously for the captives who have been set free. This prophecy reveals that Israel will come out of 70 years of captivity in Babylon. She will be delivered and returned to her homeland. She will enjoy peace. O, how the creation of God will sing joyously for her.
This prophecy further says that “thorns and pesky nettles will be turned into beautiful flowered plants.” In the same way, the Gospel of peace has the power to change the hardest of sinners. There will be great rejoicing in heaven over every sinner who repents and turns to Jesus (Luke 15:7). God’s word has the power to change lives. My best response is to worship God giving thanks for the captives set free.
Men may think that they must have fame, wealth and power to have influence. At times men may feel they deserve to be heard. That is pride and arrogance speaking. But when one comes to God, listens to God and follows God‘s counsel, that one, whether great or small, from humble beginnings or advantaged beginnings, may have great and godly influence.
Why is this so? Because God is the one who exalts the individual, in his way, in his time (1Pe 5:6). He does so in meager surroundings and in sufficient to substantial surroundings. For God, it is not about being the best IN the world. It is about being the best FOR the world. I must examine first the one standing in the one square foot of space I occupy.
Lord, you have allowed this old sentry opportunity for godly influence; first in my family, then in my circle of friends and associates; in my realms of life. I could ask for nothing more.
Who would ever have thought that a scrawny kid from Nazareth, the son of a humble craftsman, would grow up to become the savior of the world. Unlikely.
Jesus did not possess all the attributes we’ve come to expect in “leaders” – wealth, power, good looks, education, large following. No, the Messiah, Jesus, had none of those things. Unlikely.
Jesus was an “ordinary Joe,” as we might put it. He was fully acquainted with the hurt men feel (no silver spoon in his mouth). Therefore, he was despised and rejected. But he was severely underestimated. Unlikely.
Men have made a drastic miscalculation to disregard the life, teaching and ministry of Jesus – the Messiah, Savior of the world. “Who has believed the message? Who has seen his power?” (V1). Lord, I have believed and have received you as Savior and Lord. I have seen your power in my life.
When the Spirit of God comes to rest in those who have trusted Christ as Savior, they will rejoice to call him Lord. They will enthusiastically speak as a witness for him. They will not condemn those around them. But they will convey the truth, that God loves the broken and fallen sinner. They will share the truth and God will do the rest.
That is what Peter, the disciples and the 120 did at Pentecost. The Spirit in-dwelt them. They preached the truth and invited others to follow Jesus. 3,000 people accepted the King’s invitation (probably more). Lord, when this sentry opens his mouth and shares Christ, seeds of faith are planted. Your kingdom will increase.
Verses 6 & 7 bears the mention of one further thought. Jehovah here reveals the importance of the Redeemer’s task. The restoration of the people of God back into relationship with him as paramount. But it was a small thing compared to being the light to all men.
It was far more important that the message of Redemption be spread to the ends of the earth. (Note Mat 28:19,20; Acts 1:8). It is to this end that believers in Christ are commissioned, called, to “Go and make disciples.” Lord, there could be no higher calling than to be a witness to others of the redemption story of Christ.*
These final words in Chapter 45 are all at once magnetic, arresting and captivating. These words draw us inescapably into God‘s plan of mercy and righteousness.
Whom God chooses (here, the Persian king, Cyrus) he empowers for the task (v14). God moves in powerful and mysterious ways (vv15-17). What God says and does he does out loud, for all to hear and know. Following God is not the result of some “secret path.” He has said, “If you seek me, you shall find me“ (vv18,19). What God says he will do (vv20,21).
All men will look to him for eternal salvation. His promises are true and every knee will eventually bow before him. All will confess him and give praise to him. Those who have worked against him will be ashamed. His followers will boast in him alone (vv22–25). God’s plan of redemption is visible for all to see. Lord, I commit to remain open-eyed to all you say and do.
I can feel the joy and exuberance, as Isaiah writes what he sees and hears. He must have been filled to overflowing with great anticipation as to what God was about to do…deliver his people from their trouble (note vv 1,2 again). No doubt, Isaiah could hardly wait to herald the good news announcement to Jerusalem from the mountain tops, “Help is on the way!” “Your God is coming!”
How good to know that help is coming your way to deliver you from your life extremity. The Lord shall deliver his people, all those who love him. He did then, he will today and he will in the future. Lord, it is for me a joy to deliver God’s message of mercy and redemption in these days. May I be an effective voice for you.
“I have learned how to be content…“ This is a parenthetic statement given in the midst of a gratuitous statement of deeply felt thanks to the Philippian church for their financial provision to Paul. Paul’s joy (expressed so often and so well in this letter) informed his sense of contentment.
Joy is detached from circumstances. It comes from a deep and abiding relationship with Christ. So contentment is detached from other inner desires for more and for abundance. It comes from the One who alone gives us strength and courage every day. Therein lies the secret of joy and contentment. Fully rely on God for EVERY need. Lord, fill me with your joy and contentment today.
I learned this lesson long ago from, Beggar At The Banquet, the story of Hong, Woo Joon. He, his parents, brothers and sisters were severely and unspeakably persecuted Korean Christians as communism took over Korea in the 1920s-40s. Hong’s story is told by Donald B Sheley.
The book opens with this quote from Hong. “Life is like a banquet in a strange land. Great expectation preceeds some of the [banquet] dishes while caution hinders the complete enjoyment of others. As the guest, one is expected to taste and experience each course. Some of the courses are delightful, and others are not, but all are given by a concerned host [the Lord] and must be received and appreciated. That is my philosophy of life, a philosophy which I have been practicing at life’s banquet for 52 years. Some of the courses have been wonderful, others have been bitter.”
I always want to hear what the Holy has to say to me directly. But this morning the New Living Translation Bible study notes ring the bell: “Ultimate joy comes from Christ dwelling within us. Christ’s coming is near, and when he comes we will fully realize his ultimate joy.“
In the meantime, “We are to be considerate (reasonable, fair minded and charitable) to those outside the church as well as those inside. This means we are not to seek revenge against those who treat us unfairly, nor are we to be overly vocal about our personal rights. [Christ] who lives within us will fulfill his final purposes for us“ (NLT study notes).
“The years teach much which the days never know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Lord, may the faithful sentry be always mindful to walk by faith and not by sight (2Co 5:7).
Paul turns his attention to two women in the church at Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche. Their harsh disagreement comes as a bitter pill for Paul to swallow. First, because of his love for this church and second, because of their previous effective hard work sharing the good news with Paul and others.
Perhaps Paul recalls his own falling out with John Mark and Barnabas (Acts 13:13; 15:37-39). When it comes to the Christian life before a watching world, it is time to mend fences and resolve to be at peace with all men (Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14,15). Lord, lead me to correct any unresolved conflicts in my life.
This verse rounds out Paul’s previous discussion with the Philippian believers. They are encouraged to stand courageously as citizens of heaven (3:20,21). I am also reminded here of Paul’s enormous love of those in the church at Philippi.
Paul expresses his absolute delight in the people of the church at Philippi. He equates them to a victor’s crown given to the winning athlete competing in the games. Who could be happier than that? They are Paul’s “crown,” reward, in the service of Christ Jesus. Lord you have so blessed me with fruitful faith encounters, with folks I have grown to love deeply:
Michael S, Robert, Mark P, Marvin H, Kendall K, Ronda R, Larry B, Rulen & Rebecca C, Diane F, Randy K, Juan, Raquel G, Joe & Hope Canales & Hope C, Rodney G, James G, Jennifer M, Raye E, Mary A, Ronnie A, David A, Lori B, Derek & Beth P, Danya B. THE LIST GOES ON. I love you dear brothers and sisters in Christ. You are my joy and my reward.
Standing in apposition to those who have corrupted the Gospel are those whose lives clearly represent the kingdom of Heaven. They are ambassadors of Christ Jesus in this world. This is a temporary home and soon the savior from Heaven’s Kingdom, Jesus, will call us home.
Our mortal bodies will put on a immortality like that of Christ. He will, by his power, bring all things under his control and we shall be like him in our resurrected bodies. Lord, while I am in this world may my life be a true reflection of your Kingdom.
Paul is here warning the believers in Philippi to put no confidence in the works of the flesh for salvation. Whereas, devout Jews considered Gentiles as “dogs,“ he flipped the table on these so-called Judaizers. He calls them, “dogs.” They taught that for a gentle to become a true believer one must be circumcised. NOT SO! It could not be said any stronger.
These Judaizers were nothing short of evil to perpetrate such a lie. The only effect of circumcision on salvation is a “mutilation of the flesh.“ True believers put no faith in such works of the flesh. True believers rely only on what Christ did at the cross for salvation. Lord, keep this old sentry alert to anything that would lead him away from the truth of salvation by grace alone.
Paul mentions two men here, Timothy and Ephroditus. Timothy has been a selfless and faithful co-laborer. Paul looks on him as a son. Epaphroditus is also a faithful co-worker, compassionate and honorable “fellow soldier.” He risked his life for the work of Christ. “A Few Good Men?” Yes, but more. They are “The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful.”
God has blessed me with some great companions in ministry, both men and women. I am so very thankful for the incredible contributions they have made in me personally. I can only hope to be a fraction of what they have been to me. They are, “The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful.” Iχθύς (ichthus)*
*Ichthys or ichthus, from the Greek ikhthū́s (ἰχθύς, 1st cent. AD Koine Greek pronunciation: [ixˈθys], “fish“) is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish. The symbol was adopted by early Christians as a secret symbol. It is now known colloquially as the “sign of the fish.” The Greek letters are the initials of the words I ēsous C hristos th eou hy ios s ōtēr meaning, Jesus Christ Son of God Savior.