Chains Gone; Been Set Free

Make the gospel clear through your life and witness (Acts 26:29–32). #Witness #KeepItReal https://www.bible.com/116/act.26.29,32.nlt

“Like a bird from prison bars has flown”

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul’s last words to the high court hearing his case for bogus charges: “I pray to God everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am [free], except for these chains.” Paul came to this court a prisoner in chains, but totally free in Christ.

All those in the hearing came into the court free of any physical chains, but wrapped up in the chains of a spiritual kind, in bondage to sin and Satan. King Agrippa and all those in attendance could have been set free (as Paul was), if only they would make their appeal to Jesus. Enable me Lord, to make the gospel clear through my life and witness.

A Timely Word

Do not fear to speak boldly for Christ (Acts 26:19,20,24-29; Ezk 3:27). #WitnessForChrist https://www.bible.com/116/act.26.19-20,24-29.nlt https://www.bible.com/116/ezk.3.27.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul’s example and appeal is clear. When faced with an opportunity to share the gospel be respectful, tell the truth and share your personal story. These will be your best defense of the gospel. Explain that Jesus came to save those who would turned to him. He died and resurrected that men may have forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are irrefutable facts in history. A personal testimony is an irrefutable fact in history. Simple truth and reason will bring men and women to a point of decision. The rest is up to them to accept or reject. Lord, lead this sentry to speak the message you give, when you give it. The rest is up to you.

(Ezk 3:27) But when I give you a message, I will loosen your tongue and let you speak. Then you will say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Those who choose to listen will listen, but those who refuse will refuse, for they are rebels.

In Defense Of Faith

Continue to stand for Christ in adverse circumstances (Acts 24:17-21). #StandFaithful https://www.bible.com/116/act.24.17-21.nlt

Paul’s defense before Roman governor, Felix. Ananias, Jewish high priest & Tertullus, the prosecutor, look on.

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

A plot by Jewish leaders to kill Paul was foiled, as Paul was in custody and moved to Caesarea. Five days later the high priest himself, a lawyer and other Jewish leaders traveled to Caesarea, to file their charges and have Paul killed. The charges were, 1) Paul was a troublemaker, 2) a ringleader of a “cult“ (Christianity) and 3) he attempted to desecrate the temple (vv1–9). Pretty weak.

These allegations were all trumped up charges and Paul refuted each point. Furthermore, there were no witnesses to corroborate the charges (vv10–13). Paul also managed to speak in defense of his faith in God (vv14-16). His words were well chosen and effective. Lord, may the steadfast sentry trust that you will always be his/her defense at times when faith is misunderstood or maligned.

A Tale Of Thieves & Assassins

You have heard of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. But have you heard of Ananias and the 40 Assassins?

God will always have the last word; he will not be foiled (Acts 23:12-22). #LastWord

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Be certain to read Acts 23:12-22 ( https://www.bible.com/116/act.23.12-22.nlt ) in God’s ancient Holy Book before you read

…A Tale Of Thieves & Assassins

I will here attempt to draw a parallel between a fictional tale from Arabian Nights and the truth from the pages of ancient Scripture.

Ali Baba, a fictional character in the tales of Arabian Nights, discovers by chance a cave full of hidden treasures in a forest. There were expensive Oriental rugs, carpets, silks and a cache of golden coins. It is the covin of 40 thieves. “Open, Sesame,” is the magic word that opens the entrance to the cave and the treasures within.

When the thieves discover that someone has unlocked the secret to their hidden treasure, they set out to not rest until they had killed the intruder. Meanwhile Ali Baba‘s servant girl discovers their plot. Three times she saves Ali Baba‘s life. In the end the 40 thieves die a horrible death by scalding oil. The servant girl is ultimately rewarded with her freedom from servitude.

Now in the ancient Scriptures, God’s Holy Book, a high priest, identified in Acts 23:2 as Ananias of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, finds that he has 40 assassins (conspirators) who are willing to kill the apostle Paul, an intruder into the holy dogma of the day. He preaches the gospel of grace through Christ. In this, it is their belief that he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. They all vow not to eat or drink until Paul is eliminated.

But Paul is not such a criminal as they portray. His only crime is sharing the gospel of Christ. The magic words that open the entrance to heaven’s treasures are, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” But, the plot of the assassins to kill Paul is discovered. Not by a servant girl, but by Paul’s own nephew, his sister’s son.

When the nephew alerts the Roman authorities of this plot to ambush Paul and take his life, Paul is immediately removed from the grip of Ananias and the 40 assassins. I suppose they all went to their graves hungry and thirsty. 

_________

Perhaps it is a stretch to compare the fictional story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves to Ananias and the 40 assassins. Nevertheless, the story of Ananias and the 40 assassins is right out of history, out of God’s Holy Book, from the life of Paul the apostle (Acts 23:12-22).

What can we learn from these two stories? One of them is fictional and the other is true. We learn,

1) When thieves plot against other thieves someone is bound to come to a bitter end.

2) Conspirators and assassins who would plot against one of God’s chosen vessels will themselves be hindered and their attempts at stopping God’s message of salvation will be foiled. God will always have the last word; he will not be foiled.

…And such is the Tale of Thieves & Assassins.

God’s “Guardian”

Make it your life ambition that none should perish but have forgiveness and eternal life (Acts 21:10-13; 2Co 9:22; 2Pe 3:9). #GodsGuardian #TrustJesus https://www.bible.com/116/act.21.13.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

In the movie, “The Guardian,“ Kevin Costner plays Coast Guard Senior Chief Ben Randall. He is the legendary “Guardian,“ one who protects those lost at sea. His protégé, Jake Fisher (Ashton Kutcher), asks Senior Chief Randall, “What’s your number?“ (How many did you save at sea?) Randall replies, “22.” Not many for the legendary guardsman. Then Randall says, “That’s how many I didn’t save. That’s the only number I kept track of.” In the end, Randall gave his own life to save one.

The Apostle Paul was an ancient “guardian“ of the lost souls of men in a sea of humanity. Used of God, he would give his all to save some. Paul is a real life legend who has inspired believers through the ages to give their all for Christ, that none should perish (2Co 9:22; 2Pe 3:9). Lord, I am inspired in my life by your word to give all, that I might save some. May I not fail at that task.

Inspiring notes follow on Paul, as a “guardian” over the lost souls of men:

https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/french/the_sacrifices_which_paul_was_willing_to_make_in_the_cause_of_christ.htm

The Witness

Be available to God as his messenger of the light (Acts 28:17b,18).

“A Bloom In Winter“

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 24 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, lead those believing family and friends to be messengers of the gospel.

I am certainly no Apostle Paul. Still, I have a responsibility to be a witness for Christ (Mat 28:19,20). I am to, “do the work of an evangelist, to fulfill [whatever] ministry [to which I am called]” (2Ti 4:5).

Like a blooming rose in winter, I am to be pointing others to the light, turning them from the power of Satan to God; that they might receive forgiveness of their sins and find their place among God‘s people, set apart by faith in Christ.

Lord, it is my honor to be a messenger for you. May I be on the alert to opportunities every day to share the gospel.

Died; Born Again

Die daily to self; live daily in the abundance of Christ (Gal 2:20). #FreebornInChrist #CrucifiedSelf https://www.bible.com/59/gal.2.20.esv

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 18 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends put self to death on the cross of Christ and live daily for him by your Spirit.

My old self (once a slave to the Sin Master) has been crucified with Christ. God sees my death as a legal transaction. The old self died with Christ. With that, my sins were removed from me as far as the east is from the west (Psm 103:12). Galatians 2:20 is my “Death Certificate.“

But, yet shall I live, because if I died with Christ I also was raised with him. Romans 10:9,10 is my “Birth Certificate.“ One day I will be seated with Christ in glory (Eph 2:6). I have the seal of that promise in the Holy Spirit (2Co 1:21; Eph 1:13). Lord, may I live a freeborn man in Christ Jesus.

FREEBORN *

FREEBORN! My new nature is free to praise the Lord Jesus Christ who purchased my freedom at the cross of Calvary. 

FREEBORN! Eternally separated from the harmful and deadly control of the old sin nature. He is dead, vanquished by the blood of Christ. 

FREEBORN! Free to choose as never before. Free to walk in life eternal. Free to act in kindness and love. Free to follow Jesus. 

FREEBORN! Chains of sin broken, chains of bondage shattered, by the New Man, Jesus Christ, who lives in me. 

FREEBORN! Free to serve and do the works of God. Ashamed of nothing. Prepared for eternity. Telling the world, “You can be FREEBORN!”

2016 RWHollar

* (Galatians 6:14-16)

Reflect The New

Reject Satan‘s lies that corrupt our hearts (1Jhn 1:8-10). #ConfessSin #GodCleansesFromSin https://www.bible.com/116/1jn.1.8-10.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 17 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, lead my family and friends to reject Satan’s lies that corrupt our hearts.

When I repented of my sin and Jesus became my Lord, I turned my back on the old Sin master. I turned in the opposite direction and swore my allegiance to a new master, King Jesus. But the old nature still lurks around, tries to convince me I’m still a reflection of my old self.

Satan wants me to believe that nothing has changed in me. But that is a lie. I may fail in my obedience to Jesus from time to time, but I am definitely not a reflection of the person I used to be. When I confess my sin to God, I agree with him that he has changed me for the better. He continues to cleanse and to forgive me. Without you Lord, my life would be an intolerable mess.

Defend Your Ground

Stand your post, remember your great God (Neh 4:14). #OnYourGuard #HonorGuard https://www.bible.com/116/neh.4.14.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 14 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, assure my family and friends of your mighty protection and provision.

Nehemiah gives me great advice for uncertain, even hostile times: 1) do not fear the enemy – Jesus said, “Don’t fear those who kill the body but not the soul; fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell;” 2) remember the Lord your God who is great and glorious; 3) stand and fight for your families and your homes.

Lord, I am standing my post today in prayer, defending in the Spirit, my family and friends from the evil of the day.

Tap Root To Vibrant Faith

Rely on the soil of God‘s Word to nourish your faith (Col 2:6,7). #HealthyRoots #GrowInChrist https://www.bible.com/116/col.2.6-7.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 9 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends be rooted, built up, strengthened in Christ and overflowing in thankfulness.

There is a way for the Christian to be secure in faith. It must begin with a healthy root system. Roots that go deep into the soil, are succulent and long, provide the best chance for a healthy plant. These roots absorb water, dissolve minerals, feed the tap root, and store reserves. Without a healthy root system the plant will be barren.

The sentinel need of any watchman is a vibrant faith. For faith to grow healthy the sentry must put roots down deep into the Word of God and be built up on the knowledge of Christ. Then, no matter what is going on above ground the sentry will be established in truth, live a healthy spiritual life and bear much good fruit. Lord your word abundantly nourishes my faith life.

Higher Plane

Seek the joy of God‘s abundant life given to the fullest (John 10:10). #AbundantLife #SpiritLife #LifeEternal https://www.bible.com/1588/jhn.10.10.amp

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 5 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, lift my family to a higher plane of life. Alert them to what the thief does. A thief will break in when you’re not looking; in the dark, at times when it is most advantageous to him. The thief is no respecter of people, property or life. He will steal kill and destroy. This is life on its lowest plane.

But Jesus offers life on a higher plane. He comes in full view. He comes in the light. He offers his goodness. He offers life in the fullest. His purpose is to give not take. He gives forgiveness and life eternal, life at its highest and best. Thank you Lord, for delivering me from the evil one and his destructive purposes. You gave me life in its fullest.

Keep The First Thing, The First Thing

Remain faithful to your call to serve Christ (Acts 20:16-21). #ShareJesusNow #RepentAndTurnToGod https://www.bible.com/116/act.20.16-21.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul is rounding off his third and final missionary journey through Asia to preach the Gospel. He is headed to Jerusalem, anxious to arrive by Passover (a time of celebration). His desire is to deliver an offering collected in his travels, for the Jerusalem church; a very poor and needy church due to persecution and famine.

Paul’s stop near Ephesus begs a meeting with church elders from there. He reviews with them the importance of the Gospel – “Turn from sin, turn to God, put faith in the Lord Jesus.“ Paul had suffered much to preach this message to all people. I can do no less. Lord, it is ever the mission this sentry to, “Influence Men For Christ.“ May I never shrink from my mission.

“BELIEVE” – More Than A Slogan

You may truly believe God‘s word (Isa 22:25). #Believe https://www.bible.com/116/isa.22.25.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

One final lesson learned from Isaiah’s Shebna/Eliakim prophecy. The office of Prophet often used real life situations to mimic future events (note Hosea and Gomer, Jeremiah and the Potter). God will always reveal to us what he expects and what will happen if we obey or not. The point? God honors his word. He keeps his promises.

God has been clear about man’s sin and the Messiah. He would come [has come] to take away all the sin of the world. Those who accept God‘s forgiveness will receive eternal life. Those who do not, choose for themselves eternal death and hell. The prophets have all spoken. Jesus, the Messiah, son of God, has come. He paid the price for sin on the cross. Yes, “the Lord, has spoken.”

Today if you hear God’s voice do not ignore him (Hebrews 3:15). Lord, I believe what you say is truth.

A River Over Which No Enemy Ship May Pass

Be assured of God’s power to forgive, redeem and save completely (Isa 33:20–24). #MightyGod #Redeemer https://www.bible.com/116/isa.33.21,24.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

In the closing verses of this prophetic section of Scripture Isaiah finishes what he began to say in verse one. “What sorrow awaits you O destroyer“ of my people. The reference here is to Assyria, a pagan nation used by God to bring his people to their knees in repentance (vv7- 9,14,19).

When repentance comes, redemption and forgiveness comes. God encircles his people, his church, as if he were a wide river no enemy can cross. Ships of malicious intent will be permanently disabled, broken asunder (sails fall limp on broken masts with useless tackle). All the treasures of the enemy will become the possession of God‘s people. O Lord, you are the Mighty One; my judge, my king, my redeemer. All of this sentry’s devotion is due the God of Heavens Armies.

A Place Called Hope

Fix your eyes firmly on the hope we have in Christ (Isa 33:17-19). #HopeInChrist #NoOtherName https://www.bible.com/116/isa.33.17-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Isaiah continues speaking to the righteous remnant of Judah. For they have trusted in God. As in Isa 32:1, their eyes shall see a righteous king in great splendor and a vast land that stretches far into the future. Not only will Jerusalem be delivered from all her enemies, but the righteous remnant shall be delivered.

Those who put their trust in the Righteous One, the Messiah, Jesus, shall also know the deliverance of the Lord. As in Isaiah’s day, a great victory over the evil of the day shall be ours in Christ Jesus. Lord, my eyes are firmly fixed on that far land where joy and hope shall never end (John 16:22).

Water Grave*

May our need of God supersede our love of self (Isa 33:7-9) #DeathToSelf https://www.bible.com/116/isa.33.7-9.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

God will be merciful at the end of the discipline of his people for their rejection of him (vv2-6). But for now, they will weep and mourn. They must, and will have to, come to the end of themselves. They, as we, must realize that we have no righteousness, no goodness in and of ourselves.

It is of paramount importance that God’s people depend upon and trust in God alone who saves to the uttermost. Again we say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him (Job 13:15). Lord, the end of myself is the beginning of my new life. This old sentry must die daily to the old self that he may be resurrected a new man in Christ. The man I used to be has finally died. Baptism is a picture of this.

*Russ Taff beautifully depicts baptism as symbolic death to self in the song, Water Grave.

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=FLyQ3mX9fSxSvAHa75pyRGAw

A Manger Affirms God’s Promise

Look to God for your promised redemption (Isa 32:15–20). #Redemption #GodLovesYou https://www.bible.com/116/isa.32.15-20.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

It would be depressing if the words of Isaiah were ordered by an angry dispassionate God. But they are revealed by a God of love and compassion who is not willing that any should perish (2Pe 3:9). A day will come when God’s Spirit will be poured out on all men. Indeed his Spirit has already come and indwells every believer.

There will also come a day, at the end of time, when God’s Spirit will be poured out like never before (Joel 2:28f). The promises to Judah to restore justice and righteousness to the land, peace, quietness and confidence to the people of God, is also a promise for the coming kingdom of God. Lord, I stand in the promise of an outpouring of your Spirit on all men like never before.

It’s A Gift

It’s Christmas! Be intentional about sharing the Good News (Mat 10:1,5). #ShareYourFaith https://www.bible.com/116/mat.10.1,5.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Jesus called 12 men to himself. He had a plan for spreading the Gospel. He gave the 12 the responsibility and authority to carry out the plan. He gave them specific instructions on how to carry it out and a target at which to aim.

We could debate the instructions; basically he said go, preach, heal, cast out demons – do so generously. Travel light, stay as long as needed and then move on. Don’t worry about those who won’t listen. Their fate is in God’s hands.

Methods change but the sentry’s responsibility is still the same today. Be intentional about sharing the Gift, the Good News of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ. It’s free y’all. Jesus paid for it.

Friends Of The Eternal Kind

You will never have better friends than those you have in Christ (Psalm 119:63). #ForeverFriends https://www.bible.com/1588/psa.119.63.amp

In Memory Of My Friend Mel Karger (Top Pic)

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

There are friends, and then there are companions, for whom it may be said that they stick closer than a brother. That is my friend Mel Karger. He was closer to me than a brother.

Today, I will take part in a memorial service for Mel. He was my friend and partner in ministry for some 30 years. Our bond is inseparable. It is merely only shaded now by a vapor thin veil between heaven and earth. I sure do love you Mel. We’ll talk again soon.