When things began to look their worst, the crew on board Paul’s ship of distress were ready to abandon the ship. But when the officers found out, they stopped the exodus (vv30-32).
Then Paul called the ship’s company together. He reminded them that because of worry and survival activity they had not eaten. They should eat. Paul blessed the food. He told them not to worry – not one of them would perish. They ate and all on board were encouraged by Paul’s words.
In times of trouble men and women of God can be a stabilizing force. Listen to God. Don’t abandon the ship. Remain nourished for the struggle. Lord, may my life offer hope and encouragement to others.
Acts 27:1–12 describes the beginning of Paul’s journey by sea to Rome. Dr. Luke and Aristarchus accompany him. The journey is recorded by Luke, the author of Acts. The pronoun, “we,“ gives us that clue. Paul and some other prisoners are put under the charge of a Roman officer named Julius.
At the first stop on their journey, Julius allows Paul, his prisoner, and the two travel companions to leave his charge. They were allowed to go ashore, meet with friends and pick up things Paul will need for the journey. This is truly amazing, because Julius put his life and career on the line for Paul to leave his charge in such a way. What a tribute to the character of Paul. Father, may the life of this sentry in your service be characterized by such honor and trustworthiness. In this, even those who oppose me will trust me.
Politicians have more often than not pandered to the loudest voice, the largest contributor or the most powerful voting bloc. Just so, Festus, a new ruling Roman governor, panders to the interests of the Jewish ruling class in his territory. But there are those who refuse to bow a knee to injustice when truth and honor are at stake.
Festus tries to get the apostle Paul to agree to a trial that would certainly and unjustly condemn him to death. However, two years in Roman custody has not weakened Paul’s resolve to prove his innocence. To their chagrin Paul’s tenacity appeals to a higher authority. As a citizen of Rome, Paul appeals his case to Caesar. Lord, may this sentry always stand firm for truth and justice when called upon to do so.
After Paul had made his defense, Felix, the governor, stopped the hearing. He determined to delay his verdict. He put Paul back in custody. No evidence, no charges, no verdict. Paul was held in custody for two years before Felix was replaced (v27). Two years. We read no record of complaint by Paul. What we do read is how very often Felix, the governor and his wife Drusilla, a Jew, would call for Paul and talk to him about the “Way“ (v22).
Paul was forthright in his witness and did not back away from calling out sin. For two years it seems Paul was put on hold. But he used this time to witness for Christ to a Roman governor and likely many others. At times I may feel abandoned by God, set aside. Yet, God has a flip-side, an up-side, for every circumstance. Lord, may I always look for opportunities in life‘s setbacks to honor and glorify you.
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.
Acts 22:1-23:10 is an account of Paul’s testimony before an angry Jewish mob in the temple of Jerusalem and before the Jewish high Council. At this point, Paul is in the custody of a Roman cohort because he was the subject of a rioting mob of Jews. In the midst of all the confusion of a riot, that nearly cost Paul his life, his arrest and inquisition (Roman and Jewish), Paul must have wondered, as we often do, “Okay Lord, what do I do now?”
Then comes Acts 23:11, “The Lord stood at Paul’s side and spoke plainly to him – ‘Have courage, you have faithfully witnessed to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must do the same in Rome.’ “ Here’s the sentinel takeaway: When you are in the center of God‘s will, he will not fail to speak courage and purpose into your life. So Lord, when life gets difficult, I will trust you to lead and guide me. You are my “Extremity Remedy.”
My late friend, mentor and father in ministry of 30+ years, had a saying. “There are none so blind as those who won’t see and none so deaf as those who won’t listen.“ Such were those of the violent mob formed against Paul when, at the end of his missionary journeys, he returned to Jerusalem. When he showed up in the temple he was mobbed, treated like a rebel, and beaten by uninformed irrational Jews.
Like Jesus, Paul was accused of leading Jews to disown Judaism. Roman soldiers had to rescue Paul from the angry crowd. Paul’s best attempts at conciliation (vv 21-26) were met with deaf ears and angry hearts. At times my best good faith efforts at peace and unity may not be enough. Lord, if the sentry is called upon to suffer for Christ, may his/her resolve to stand faithful be strengthened.
Once again Paul finds himself caught between Jewish tradition and the new Christian faith. Again he is confronting the Jerusalem church elders steeped in Jewish tradition. Both Paul and these elders had come along way from the Acts 15 conflict. They all seemed more prepared to yield to each other as being sincere in faith. Everyone seemed confident that various traditions among believers and between church bodies were acceptable. As long as they understood that traditions are not the means of salvation.
The fundamental issue is faith in the cross of Christ for the atonement of sin, as the solitary means of salvation. What follows after that is a matter of choice and conscience. It is a matter of threading the needle between relationships and religious tradition.
It would seem that relationships over traditions would be a small matter when it comes to the all important mission of taking the gospel to a lost world. Yet, if the world is to see faith in action among believers, then relationships must always trump ritual and religion.
Father, may the faithful sentry seek to find common ground with sincere believers who worship different than they; who have different backgrounds than they, but worship the same Jesus.
Day 40 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my friends and family always choose to serve God alone.
In Joshua Chap 24, Joshua recounts the many ways that God, not idols made of their own hands and minds, delivered Israel from Egypt, lead them through the Red Sea on dry ground, delivered them from the hands of enemy kings and gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. The Lord God of Heaven did all that.
Joshua then asks, in essence, in light of all the evidence for God, why on earth would you choose the idols of the pagan nations that God destroyed? The choice is clear. He says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the lord God of Israel.” Lord when I consider all the battles you have won for me, all the provisions you have made on my behalf, the choice is clear…I choose to serve you.
Day 39 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my friends and family dwell on all things honorable and speak truth and healing.
Proverbs Chapter 12 reveals that men will be judged by what they think and what they say. Many there are who stay awake at night planning to do evil. They arise in the morning to carry out their plans. They lie and deceive with their tongue. Stinkin Thinkin!
But the wise and honest among us remain calm and just tell the truth. Their words bring healing. Truth always stands the test of time. Lies and dishonesty will be exposed. Know this, two things will influence what you think and say: 1) the books you read; 2) the friends you keep. So Lord, “fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I’ve said ‘nuff.” – Susan Jeffers
Day 38 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, I pray that a sincere spirit of generosity live large on pages of life among my family and friends.
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Oh the blessing of generosity. Generosity is a form of giving that expresses freedom from smallness of mind or character. It stands in readiness to give liberally. Generosity is itself a reward. This is, “The R.O.G. Principle” – Return On Generosity.
Scripture says, “The generous will prosper.“ “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” “Giving freely will result in greater capacity to give“ (R.O.G.). Jesus said in Luke 6:38 that when one gives, it will return to that one many times over…running over, poured out into his or her lap (R.O.G.).
Lord, you have proven The R.O.G. Principle over and over again to this aged sentry. Thank you for the joy of giving.
Day 37 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, I pray that my family and friends engage with and apply your word every day.
Here is a question for the ages: “How does a young man stay pure?“ Or anyone else for that matter. The Bible answers its own questioning the same verse, “…by obeying [God’s] word [the Scriptures].“ To do that I must take time to read God‘s word, meditate on it, digest it, memorize key portions of it, understand it and apply it (see vv10–16).
God’s word, like a Military Field Manual, contains all the how to‘s for procedures important to soldiers serving in the field. The prayer sentry, the soldier-saint of God, could no more function without God’s word than the citizen-soldier without his/her Field Manual. Lord, may I engage with your word daily as vital to my survival in the spiritual battles I face.
Day 35 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my family and friends show genuine Christlikeness towards even their enemies.
All of Romans Chapter 12 is full with richness in regard to being a “living sacrifice;” being that one who is willing to lay his/her life down for another. This is the one who will unselfishly develop the character of Christlikeness – being authentic and ready, even eager, to help another.
This is nowhere seen more clearly than when I am willing to genuinely look for ways to be a friend and not just get even or berate an enemy. To do that I must stop, listen and try to understand their deepest needs. Then, as I apply Christlike goodness, I may conquer the evil that is intended toward me.
Jesus himself expressed at least three ways that we may overcome evil with good (Luk 6:28–36): 1) pray for your enemy, 2) love (by act of kindness) your enemy and 3) treat your enemy like you would like to be treated. Lord, you have show me how to conquer evil with good. Make of me that “living sacrifice,” willing to act in a Christlike manner towards even my enemy.
Day 34 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, I pray my family and friends would find their delight and joy in the counsels of your Word.
To be in the counsel of the ungodly, the godless, is to be in apposition with them. That is, to throw in with them, to join in wholeheartedly with their godless philosophies. That necessarily means being in opposition to the counsel and delight of God’s law, God’s word.
I come away from this Psalm asking myself, “To what drumbeat do I march?” Do I march 100% in line with the beat of this world’s drum, and enjoy it? Or do I step out 100% in sync with the Word of God? Lord, may I find my delight in you alone and in your Word. I choose to march to the drumbeat of your Word.
Day 29 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Father, put it on the heart of family members and friends to be authentic in their love of and service to others.
When it comes to others I need to be real and be ready, focus on genuinely loving others. I need to be enthusiastic in my service to God and others. I should work on being authentic in my compassion for others, even those who are hard to love or want to abuse me.
Lord, I want to work towards a harmonious outcome with people. I never want to be that “know-it-all guy.” I strive to be a humble participant in the lives of others. I’d be honored to be some small part in turning someone’s life around. Thank you Lord, for “Smitty.” He was a sentry teammate to me in Vietnam. One humble sentry showed me how to love you and love others.
Day 26 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Father, lead my family and friends to honest trustworthy friends; may the be that kind of friend.
The theme of Proverbs 11 is “Godly“ living, that is, righteous, gracious and morally sound living. When the godly lead a people the whole city celebrates; upright citizens are good for a city (a nation)…leave a legacy of prosperity. But the wicked tear a city apart, leave a legacy of failure. When they are no more, the people rejoice (vv10,11,14).
The godless destroy friends with their words, they belittle their neighbors and gossip about them. But truth and knowledge will vindicate the godly. The godly hold their tongue and they keep confidences with friends.
Lord, may I always have honest, godly and trustworthy friends and advisors. May I be that kind of friend and advisor. May honest, godly and trustworthy men and women lead our cities and nation.
Day 23 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my family and friends be quick to seek God in repentance.
In Psalm 51 we find king David’s prayer of repentance for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11&12). No one, not even the greatest among us, is immune from sin. There are times without number that I have myself failed in so many ways. Yet God, in his grace and mercy, saw and heard in me a contrite, broken heart and he forgave me (v17).
It is no stretch to think that I may ask God to create (do something new) in my heart and renew in me a spirit of joy and faithfulness toward God. Jesus said in John 6:37 that all who come to him will never be rejected. Lord, you have never once denied this sentry the renewal, the refreshing, I have needed to remain loyal to you.
Only a foolish man or woman would take a know-it-all position towards life. Such a person looks despicably upon wisdom and knowledge – they cannot be told anything. But a wise person (who, by the way, may not be the most educated person in the room) will stop, look and listen. Then they will speak in measured, carefully spoken words.
The hallmark of a person who is wise is their reverence and respect for God. There in lies the foundation of all wisdom and knowledge. Father, may I be still and silent before you; the ears of my understanding open and ready to receive true knowledge.
Keeping covenant with my soul to maintain a righteous thought life requires more than deciding NOT to do this, that or the other thing. That is part of the equation. The other part is to be proactive with things I WILL do.
Paul tells me here to refocus my thoughts on things that are honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable – things of excellence and worthy of praise. If I practice such things they will become my habit, making my thought life more righteously oriented. It comes with a promise: God will stand with me in securing for me a perimeter of righteousness.
What steps will help me secure the perimeter of my thought life? It’s like a three-legged stool: study God’s word, pray and worship together with other believers. Lord, as a sentry on the wall, I will take steps daily to secure my perimeter.
Day 20 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my family and friends maintain a healthy and pure thought like.
Job made a “covenant with his eyes“ not to look with lust after a woman. The “eye” in Scripture equates to a spirit of understanding; the thought life. Jesus makes this point in Matthew 6:22,23. Job is essentially making a promise to himself for his own good, not to allow lust to gain control in his life.
What is lust? It is the long look, the second look, the intentional look. The first look may be unavoidable. But the second look is a choice. One must choose to “UNLOOK”; to maintain a spirit of purity. If my eyes don’t look, my heart won’t wander into lust.
Reign in where your eyes wander (on the street, in books and magazines, movies, TV and internet). The theme song of the movie, Jeremiah Johnson says this, “The way that you wander is the way that you choose.” Lord, may this sentry on duty honor you with the choices I make with my eyes and my thought life.
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! 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!”
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.
Day 15 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, make my family and friends aware of avenues of escape from temptation.
It is said, when you enter into a hotel it is wise to learn where the fire exits are located. Even in our homes, families ought to know how to escape if necessary. No one is immune to the possibility of a fire. God is saying the same thing about temptation – Be prepared. Temptation happens.
The alert Christian will be ready with an escape plan. Most folks know where they are vulnerable to temptation. The escape plan starts with avoiding certain people and places. Next, is learning from past failures. But God always makes a way out. Lord, keep me on high alert to the schemes of Satan to bring me down.
Day 13 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, pull my believing family and friends together as a genuine representation of who you are.
What is a temple? It is more than just brick and mortar. It is a symbol of God‘s presence in the world. Paul calls followers of Christ the temple of God, a place in which the Holy Spirit has taken up his residency. Followers of Christ are the embodiment of Christ and his presence in this world.
Peter calls Christ followers living stones, fitted together in Christ as a spiritual house [a temple] (1Pe 2:4,5). What believers do, individually and collectively, represent to the world who God is. Lord, my sentinel goal is to be a genuine reflection of who you are to those near me.
Day 12 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends find courage in faithfully reading and applying God’s Word.
In the preface to the book of Joshua (New Living Translation) it says, “To be a strong leader like Joshua, we must be ready to listen and to move quickly when God instructs [Oh, the lost opportunities that sloth and indecision do bring]…”
“…Once we have God‘s instructions, we must be diligent in carrying them out.“ Strong, courageous men and women of faith do not deviate from God‘s Word; they study it, meditate on it (digest it), pray it and obey it. Lord, may I consistently and persistently be a student of your Word; then move with courage
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.