Set-back, Flip-side, Up-side

Utilize your setbacks in life to point people to Christ (Acts 24:22-27). #FlipSideUpSide https://www.bible.com/116/act.24.24-27.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Night Passage

Our task as followers of Christ is to faithfully obey, one step at a time (Acts 23:23,24). #OneStepAtATime #TrustGod https://www.bible.com/116/act.23.23-24.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

When God calls a person to a mission – He called Paul to a mission; said he would go to Rome to preach the gospel message (Acts 23:11; 25:12) – God will see that it is carried out.

Because of the threat against Paul’s life, his journey to Rome begins secretly in a night passage with an armed Roman escort out of town to Caesarea. Two hundred soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 spearmen would bring Paul safely to the governor, Felix, for trial.

Paul is safely delivered, including a letter explaining the allegations against him (vv26-30). Felix agrees to hear Paul’s case when formal charges were filed (v35). I may not always understand the means by which God works, but I may always trust God. He will go to any lengths to enable the obedient servant. The task of the prayer sentry is to faithfully follow.

The Extremity Remedy

When life gets difficult, trust God to lead & guide you (Acts23:11). #TrustGod #TakeCourageInChrist https://www.bible.com/116/act.23.11.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.”

Thread The Needle

Don’t allow traditions to disrupt sincere fellowship among believers (Acts 21:21-26). #SincereFaith #ThreadTheNeedle https://www.bible.com/116/act.21.19-21,26.nlt

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.

Undeterred

Allow no one to deter you from God’s call (Acts 21:10–12). #FollowJesus #NotDeterred https://www.bible.com/1588/act.21.10-12.amp

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

While in the city of Caesarea the prophet Agabus foretold of the apostle Paul‘s imprisonment if he went to Jerusalem. Paul’s friends begged him with many tears not to go. Paul understood. He knew it would be an upstream battle. But he would not be deterred by loving friends.

Oh, how well-meaning friends and family may turn us away from any hard mission to which Jesus calls us. I thank God for a Spirit-filled wife who supported me in my departure from real estate in the 1980s, to enter into full-time ministry. In the 90s she stood with me again as I entered into prison ministry. Pity those who do not know such support.

Lord you have blessed this sentry with great and encouraging friends and family. May all who follow Christ be so fortunate in their mission.

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

Be Real, Be Ready

Always be a real and genuine servant of others (Rom 12:9–16). #GladToDoIt #GenuineMinistry https://www.bible.com/116/rom.12.9-18.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

* The Burden Borne

Take your anxious thoughts and burdens to Jesus (Mat 11:28–30). #HeavyBurden #AnxiousHeart #GiveItToJesus https://www.bible.com/116/mat.11.28-30.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 27 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Father, may each of my dear family and friends roll every burden and care onto you today.

When the burden we carry is heavy and the load feels too much, come to Jesus, who alone is able to comfort our weary heart. He says, “I will give you rest. Let me teach you.“ How? Through his word, through the healing touch of a friend or minister, through worship and praise. Find comfort through the written stories of saints who have suffered many sorrows and found Jesus, more than able.

The Apostle Peter tells us we can roll our burden and care over onto Jesus, because he cares about us (1Pe 5:7). Who among us has not screamed out in agony of pain suffered in one form or another. I know that I have. Jesus you have never abandoned me. You have never ignored my anxious cries for help. You have never failed to rest the weary anxious heart of the sentry in need.

* THE BURDEN YOU BEAR

A troubled and burdened man prayed and prayed that God would lift his burden. Day after day he prayed that his life would be easier and he begged for God’s intervention.

One day, Jesus came to the man and asked, “My child, what troubles you?” The man replied that his life was full of turmoil and that it had become too much to bear. He again asked for help stating that he just couldn’t continue to go on.

Jesus, feeling the man’s anguish, decided help was in order. The man was so happy that his prayers were about to be answered that his burden already felt lighter.

Jesus took the man to a room and stopped in front of the door. When he opened the door, what the man saw was amazing. The room was filled with crosses; little crosses, big crosses, giant crosses. The man, bewildered, looked at Jesus and asked how this would help him. Jesus explained that each cross represented a burden that people carry; small burdens, big burdens, giant burdens — and every burden in-between. At this point, Jesus offered the man the opportunity to choose his burden.

The man, so excited that he was finally able to have some control over his life, looked around the room for just the right cross. He saw a tiny little cross way back in the corner. It was the smallest cross in the room. After a bit of thought, he pointed to the cross and said, “That one, Lord. I want that one.” Jesus asked, “Are you sure?” The man quickly replied, “Oh, yes Lord. Most definitely, yes.”

Jesus turned to the man and replied, “My child, [that is the cross you brought in with you]. It is the burden you already carry.” ~Author Unknown~

[“My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Jesus]

Submitted by Debra Stitt to https://www.all-creatures.org/stories/theburden.html

Show A Little Love

Show the same love toward others God has shown you (Eph 4:30-32). #LovingGodLovingOthers https://www.bible.com/116/eph.4.30-32.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 26 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, enable my family and friends to encourage the heart of God by being a blessing and not a burden to others.

The way to grieve the heart of God is to be a bitter, angry, harsh, slanderous and malicious person. Particularly since we know that the Lord Jesus has made his followers one with him. These attitudes and actions should never be counted among those who follow Christ.

Instead, Christ followers should show kindness, compassion and forgiveness, times without number, toward others. They do this out of a heart of gratitude to God for how he has loved and forgiven them for their bad attitudes, words and actions. Lord, my debt to you is repaid in part when I am kind and loving toward others.

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.

Truth Speak

Be clear about Scripture truth to those around you (1Co14:24,25). #SpeakTruthClearly https://www.bible.com/116/1co.14.24-25.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES

It is imperative that followers of Christ speak in plain understandable language and terms to a world without Christ, without understanding. Even the use of “tongues“ requires an interpretation to follow, that there may be understanding. The gospel of Christ must be made plain and clear.

When Scripture is spoken clearly people will be convicted of sin. They will fall on their knees and worship God…declare that the presence of God is in that place. I am thankful to attend a church like that. The gospel, Scripture truth, is made clear through many avenues of ministry. Lord, open the mouth of this sentry to speak the truth of your word, that conviction and repentance might follow.

Jesus In Me

Live your Christian life as a reflection of Christ (1Co3:16; 1Pe 2:4,5). #TempleOfTheHolySpirit #LivingStones https://www.bible.com/59/1co.3.16.esv https://www.bible.com/116/1pe.2.4-5.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:


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.

Share The LIGHT

Share the light and hope of Christ with those you meet (Jhn 12:35,36). #ShareTheLight #ShareJesus https://www.bible.com/1588/jhn.12.35-36.amp

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 6 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, lead my family and friends to walk in the Light. Our days are numbered on this earth. Every day is an opportunity to dispel darkness wherever we may go. May we choose to walk in the light of knowing Christ.

As a children of the Light [Jesus] we can bring hope and courage to those we meet along the way. We can be a Charlie Brown “Pigpen,“ living in doom and gloom. Or we can be a “Peppermint Party,” spreading joy, light and hope. Choose to walk in the Light. Lord, a sentinel command on the watch is to give those around us hope and joy in Christ.

Get Your “Spur On”

Thoughtfully consider how you might encourage others every day (Heb 10:24,25) #SpurOn #LoveAndGoodDeeds https://www.bible.com/111/heb.10.24-25.niv

Joe Gary – Friend and Arena Pastor, Top Hand Cowboy Church, Encourages Daughter, Briley, as Son Luke Looks On; Photo by wife, Stacie.

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 4 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, surround my family and friends with a spirit of love and good deeds. Who does not need a regular word of encouragement? “Spur one another on“ (NIV). The idea in this Scripture is to stir up, encourage, provoke, motivate others around you. Especially strive to “spur on” those with whom we share faith in the Lord Jesus.

“Spur On” [motivate] to what? To do love and good deeds. Today our country is experiencing much provocation toward cynicism, skepticism and distrust. We need to hear, in a big way, from those in the faith who express genuine encouragement of others. Lord, I want to be the kind of friend and brother that motivates others toward love and acts of kindness. I want to get my “Spur On.”

Finishing

Give your all to honor Christ with your life (Acts 20:33–38). #Remembered #Legacy #BlessedGiving https://www.bible.com/116act.20.33-37.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

If you’re a leader, corporate or pastoral; if you’re a grandparent or parent; if you’re a front line responder, teacher or politician… Whoever you are, whatever you do, ask, “How might people remember me when I’m gone?”

Following Paul’s example, I would hope to be remembered as unselfish, benevolent, industrious and sincere. I would hope to be remembered as prayerful, loving, kind and fully surrendered to the Lord Jesus – that I gave more than I received. Lord, may I lay it all down to honor Christ with my life.

“Watch Out!

Be diligent to express, by word and example, the truths of Scripture (Acts 20:25–31). #HoldTheLine #BeAlert https://www.bible.com/116/act.20.28-32.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul is about to leave the leaders of the church at Ephesus. He will entrust them with the great message of grace. He tells them, “GUARD yourselves…feed and care for the flock – the church. “WATCH OUT!“ Be alert to false teachers and prideful men who seek only a following for themselves. Such people will divide and create disunity in the church.

To “GUARD” and to “WATCH OUT” are a call to arms for the faithful leader in the church and in the family. Standing vigilantly requires him/her to, 1) teach God’s word well, 2) minister in truth and all sincerity, 3) counsel by prayerful insight, sought through tears and deep spiritual connections and 4) sound the alarm when danger approaches. Father, may this sentry effectively share the gospel and express the truth of Scripture by my words and by my example.

No Greater Mission

Make sharing Christ your priority (Acts 20:22-28). #ShareJesusNow https://www.bible.com/116/act.20.22-28.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul had staked his life on the Gospel. He faces suffering and chains as he proceeds to Jerusalem. Here, Paul is challenging church leaders to give their all, as he has done, for the Gospel of Jesus. Tell others the good news of the wonderful grace of God. Faithfully carry out the mission to which you have been called.

To these elders of Ephesus Paul says, “Guard yourselves and God’s people – his church, purchased with his blood. Feed and care for God’s people over whom the Spirit of God has appointed you.” Nothing is more important. Lord, I could never give my life to anything greater than sharing the gospel with others.

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.

Got Power?

Do not let greed and power overcome you (Isa 22:15,19). #Influence #PowerGrab https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2022:15,19&version=NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Enter Shebna, overseer of the king’s household. Isaiah stands down from his prophecies regarding Judah and Israel to confront Shebna directly for his arrogance. A minor point for me is why chronologists drop this incident here. It is hard to understand why various messages and prophecies in Isaiah are organized as they are. That does not however make the text any less authoritative.

But this isolated event is important. Shebna was second in rank in the household of the king. He may have been pro-alliance with Egypt/Assyria and advising King Hezekiah in opposition to Isaiah. He was a greedy arrogant man with self-promotion on his mind. So selfish a man as he, in as high a position as he, was an intolerable point of resistance to God’s will for Judah. Lord, may I not squander whatever influence I may have but direct it toward the good of others.

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.

Next Gen

Will you stand and be counted among those who honor God (Isa 29:22-24)? #NextGenChristFollower https://www.bible.com/1588/isa.29.22-24.amp

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The prophet points to a new generation who would rise up strong, with no fear or shame. They would recognize the holiness and blessings of Jehovah God, stand in awe of God. This new generation would pursue understanding and instruction from God.

Was Isaiah also pointing beyond his day to a church triumphant, the many [spiritual] children birthed by Abraham (Gen 12:1-3)? The church stands in the tradition of walking with God through all kinds of tribulation. She will stand today in the face of many trials. She will stand going into a future kingdom with God. The world will never be without a generation of those who serve God. Lord, raise up the next generation of sentries who will honor you and stand with you.

The Indifferent & Deceitful Heart

Worship God in sincere devotion (Isa 29:1,13-16). #WorshipInSpiritAndTruth #DeadReligion https://www.bible.com/116/isa.29.1,13-16.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

At the center of the Jewish faith is the temple in Jerusalem and the worship of Jehovah God. At the center of the Christian faith is the temple of the Holy Spirit (my body – 1Co 6:19) and the collective worship of God by believers in union together with Christ (Jhn 4:23,24).

The call has always been to worship God in spirit and in truth. But we see here that rote ritual, rules and observances had supplanted sincere worship of, and devotion to, God. It was indifferent and deceitful. It happens today as well. This brings the holy ire of God on dead lifeless religion. Father, may this sentry worship & serve you with a whole heart, given in spirit and in truth.

Lord, would you bring America to a place of sincere worship and devotion to you. Would you intervene and give her a whole heart for you. Would you sweep our land in renewal, revival and spiritual awakening.

Harbinger In The American City

Are your ears open to the cries of the city (Isa 24:4-6)? #GodForTheCity https://www.bible.com/116/isa.24.4-6.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

What keeps you awake at night? Securing your family, your home, your wealth? Your life? In God’s judgment none of these things will be safe.

The crisis of our day is but a harbinger of what is to come. The Scriptures read like a current news story: “There is no new wine – [where are the voices for God’s word?]. Joy is silenced. THE CITY WRITHES IN CHAOS; every HOME IS LOCKED to keep out intruders. MOBS GATHER in the streets, crying out for wine. Joy has turned to gloom. Gladness has been banished from the land. THE CITY IS LEFT IN RUINS, it’s gates battered down” (24:7-12). Sometimes I read Scripture and cannot believe my own eyes. Today we are seeing a picture of what God’s judgment will look like.

This old sentry has stood his watch many a day and night, near 75 times around the sun. From my watchtower I have not seen such chaos inside my own walls, in my own streets and political landscape as seen today. This sentry cries out in the Morning Watches, “Lord, enlarge my heart for the city. Much of my days are past, but my heart breaks for my city. I will do whatever I can.”

“Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. . . Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Psm 31:21–22,24)

“And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” (Jer‬ ‭29:7‬)

For the serious reader: Phenomenal article on the heart of God for the heart of the city, written by Cory Seibel, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministries at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary and Worship Pastor at Bethany Mennonite Brethren Church in Fresno, California. https://directionjournal.org/39/1/heart-of-god-in-heart-of-city-missional.html

“Git ‘R’ Done”

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Courageously face hardship/opposition to carry out ministry (Rom 15:25,31). #CourageousForJesus. https://www.bible.com/116/rom.15.25,31.nlt

Riots in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41) had forced Paul (est 55-60 yrs old) to leave that city. He went to Macedonia. A plot on Paul’s life forced him to leave there. But before he left he took a benevolence offering for the poor believers in Jerusalem. He stopped in Corinth (Greece) temporarily. While there he wrote the Romans epistle.

Paul’s plan was to go on to Jerusalem (offering in hand). Then he would go to Spain to preach the gospel, stopping in Rome to meet these Christians. But first he must face opposition in Jerusalem by Jewish Christians who feel he is too influenced by Gentiles.

This Sentry’s prayer: Lord, may I be willing to face any hardship/opposition for the sake of the Gospel. Even if Christians misunderstand or wrongly attack my motives.

The One Thing

Fulfill the call of God in your life (Rom 15:16-23). #WriteYourEpitaph https://www.bible.com/116/rom.15.16-20,23.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul’s greatest ambition was to preach the Good News of Christ to those who had not yet heard the message. He was enthusiastic about his mission and he credits God for the results. He was faithful to the message and to living an exemplary life…But it is God who gives the increase.

Paul had accomplished all God had called him to do this far. Next on God‘s agenda was to actually visit the church in Rome. It is important to know our one ambition for Christ. (In 3-5 words, what would they write on my tombstone? That’s the mission.) Lord, I pray that I may fulfill my one ambition in life, to “influence men for Christ (2Ti 4:5). May I do so to your honor and glory.