Day 36 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my family and friends, my beloved country, put their trust in God alone.
In Isaiah Chapter 40 Israel learns of her soon release from captivity…her sins are pardoned, her cup of punishment is finished. God is coming in power to deliver her (vv1-11). The God of Israel has no equal (vv13,14,18,25). God is all powerful, all present, all knowing, and eternal. He knows the troubles of Israel…of all men, everywhere. He gives strength to the weak and powerless.
All those who trust in God will gain renewed strength – they will soar like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and never faint. Oh Lord, my daily strength, the strength of all those who have gone before for me is a testimony to your deliverance, power and compassion. Oh, that all men everywhere might trust fully in you.
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 33 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, I pray that the seed of the Gospel take deep root in the hearts of my family and friends.
When the gospel seed is sown, spread, broadcast, it will fall where it will. Some will not get it (vv18,19). Some will join, then lose interest (vv20,21). Some will be too busy, too involved, to stay connected (v22). Some however, will truly receive the gospel message with much enthusiasm – they will go on to produce much good fruit (v23).
Those who truly receive the gospel seed, live by its message, will continue to grow and be energized by it. They will, through the years, influence many others for Christ. Lord, may the seed of the gospel continue to take root in my heart and produce good fruit.
Father in Heaven, America is in great need of the Gospel seed to take deep root. She is in deep need of embracing the message of the Gospel. I pray she not reject, ignore or overlook your message of grace and forgiveness. May she let that Gospel seed go deep into rich fertile soil. May she yield in repentance. May that seed then sprout forth in a bountiful harvest of good fruit.
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.
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 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.
Day 7 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends walk in the light of Christ. The god of this world has thrown a blanket of darkness over the hearts of men. In the dark there is ignorance, fear, evil work and sin (rebellion against God).
But for those who seek enlightenment, courage, good works and deliverance from sin, the promises of God are on full display. His light penetrates the darkness. He exposes the hearts of men in the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. Father, may my life courageously reflect the light of Christ.
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.
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.
9Behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” – Mat 2:9-11 (NKJV)
Plenty of places light a star atop their tree for the holidays. This is Alaska, and Anchorage does it a little bigger. The holiday tree lighting takes place in Town Square on the day after Thanksgiving, but the star everyone looks for is 14 miles away. You can’t miss it. The star is on the side of a mountain and stretches 300 feet across the slopes of the Chugach.
The star comes on every year in late November right about the day of Anchorage’s own tree lighting. Its 350 bulbs stay lighted [from late November] until the final musher [dog sled races] are finished. This is a widely observed tradition for many Alaskans when it comes to decorating for the holidays. [The star is also lit on September 11.] The lights that form the star are maintained by work crews of the Joint Air Force Base Elmendorf Richardson, which controls Mount Gordon Lyon and the land surrounding the star.
The tradition began in 1958 when an Army captain at the nearby missile site placed a modest, 15-foot wide star atop the guardhouse for Christmas. The missile site was decommissioned in the late 1970s. The star however, has been redesigned, relocated and enlarged through the years. Once just a single point of light in the mountains, the outline of the star near Arctic Valley is now clearly visible from downtown Anchorage, almost 14 miles away.
[In an article attributed to Staff Sgt. Mike Campbell, 477th Fighter Group, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, it was noted in the ‘Anchorage Daily News’,that U.S. Army Captain, Douglas Evert, Commander of B Battery, Fourth Missile Battalion, 43rd Artillery, had his men construct the star at the end of the Cold War. It originally rested on the roof of the gatehouse of Site Summit, the location of the Nike Hercules missile battery.]
The five-pointed star is a beacon all winter long in Anchorage, one of the brightest of many Anchorage winter traditions. [Some say it can be seen from Google Earth.]
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy“
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.
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.
…that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little baby, YOU KISS THE FACE OF GOD…
[Child of God, do you know that you too, “kiss the face of God?” Every time you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, are kind to a stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit the prisoner, you too KISS THE FACE OF GOD – Because when you do these things with the last, the least, the lost and the lonely, you are doing it unto the Man-child, Jesus – Mat 25:40]
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).
An enemy brings destruction, God’s discipline for his wayward, prodigal people. What sin has beset you, O man or woman of God? But now, having been broken over your own (my own) sin and humbled in repentance before God, he turns on the rod of his discipline.
By God’s mighty power he smashes the rod of his discipline. He breaks it asunder. He consumes it in flames and it is scattered irreverently, as ashes into the wind. To all the nations of the mighty, are you listening? Are you paying attention to the demise of the enemies of God? None will escape the destruction of God for sins committed. O Lord, you have shown me that there is no benefit in standing against you. Though frail, broken, weak and sinful, the sentry stands with you Lord.
What does it mean to come to the end of self? Isaiah answers by pointing Israel (pointing me) to symbols of failed earthly treasures. Treaties for security with powerful earthly kings turn to bitter disappointment. Lebanon, known for its stately cedar trees, wither and die. Sharon, known for its very fertile land, become a barren wilderness. Bashan, known for its abundance of grain and cattle, is plundered. Carmel, known for its thick forests, is utterly defoliated. Earthly resources collapsed around them.
When every earthly ally fails; every earthly resource withers, becomes barron and plundered; everything once thought to be mine by entitlement, deserved or taken for granted, is stripped away, I have come to the end of self. Now I am ready to listen and receive from God.
TESTIMONY: Oh, the battle scars of this aging sentry. They run deep and they run long. But they are every day reminders to me of the grace and the mercy of God in my life. It makes me tremble and weep. But the scars prove the worth of that final death blow to self, to the man I used to be. The scars embedded deeply in my conscience give evidence of battles won by my high and glorious Commander, The Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I must come before you today Lord, in humble repentance for trusting in anything other than you.
Russ Taff beautifully depicts this death to self (pictured in believers baptism) by this song Water Grave.
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.
Turning again to the destroyer (presumably Assyria) of Israel, Isaiah pronounces disaster on this enemy of God‘s people. Though this destroyer is used by God to discipline his people they (presumably a holy remnant) offer up prayers acknowledging God as merciful and strong in times of trouble.
As in Job 13:15, this remnant says, “God might kill me but I have no other hope. I will take my case up with him.” The Lord God is our sure foundation. Reverence and respect of God is our greatest treasure in every circumstance. Lord, the ardent sentry has no greater treasure than his/her reverence for you. I shall put my faith in you.
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.
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.
The nation of Judah was facing a crisis (Assyrian conquest). For her sin of rejecting God she stood at the threshold of destruction. The prophet Isaiah clearly identifies the character of men and women who disdain and reject God (vv5-7). America needs to wake up, for her bulwark reveals similar vulnerabilities.
This is America’s National Disgrace. It is clear to the discerning eye. From Isaiah 32:5-7: Those who are ungodly and foolish are seen as heroes. Dishonorable men are exalted and respected. Fierce zealots make plans to further their own ends. They practice ungodliness; ridicule and marginalize those who trust in God. They make plans for their own self interests but they deprive the disenfranchised of basic needs in life. Smooth talkers appear honest/earnest, but mix sense with non-sense, scheming to mislead. They lie to convict the powerless, even when their is just cause. Can we see any of this in America today?
THERE IS HOPE AHEAD!
Isaiah speaks of a Redeemer who will come. Judah had suffered under unjust rulers and leaders, but “A righteous king is on the way. Honest princes will prevail under him.” Although Judah would be destroyed and taken into captivity, still there were many who act according to “generosity” (v8). They were hungry for a righteous ruler. That ruler, that “righteous king” would be Jesus Christ, who has already come and he will come again to rule.
WHAT WILL THE HOPE OF THIS RIGHTEOUS KING LOOK LIKE?
The coming Christ will provide, “Shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm.” His rule will be “like streams of water in the desert or the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.” In Christ’s rule “everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it. Even the hotheads will be full of sense and understanding. Those who stammer will speak out plainly” (vv1-4).
Lord, it excites the heart of this aged sentry to know the assurance of my once come, and coming again, righteous king. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Today would be as good a day as any to pray for a national repentance in America. That she would once again celebrate the Christ-child; the Savior of the world.
Lord, would you give the leaders of America a humble heart of repentance. I pray that they would no longer compare themselves to each other but see themselves in the light of a holy God.
Lord, would you begin the work of repentance and healing within the one square foot in which I stand this morning. Do a work of repentance and healing in my household. Do a work of repentance and healing in and among my neighbors, whom I know very well.
I pray for the leaders, the pastors and ministers in my city. I pray for those officials who carry out the will of the state in my county. I pray for the leaders of my state and the leaders of my nation.
From my house to the White House, Lord, may we have a humble heart of repentance. May you once again receive the honor and majesty due you in America.
Lord, this is a prayer from the heart of the sentry standing watch today. I join the sentinel call to prayer.
Because of God’s devotion to his people, Isaiah calls again for Judah to repent, return to God; renounce all idolatrous behavior. Even greater reason to turn back to God is his promise to annihilate Assyria by the sword of God (note 37:36).
God is devoted to his rebellious people and he promises to not only defend his people, but to lay waste their enemies. God’s assurance of love and protection should alter the behavior of his people toward him. Lord, you have captured and delivered my heart. I am yours.
Repentance in America begins with the person in the mirror.
When God‘s passion for his people is excited to action on their behalf, you wouldn’t want to be the one toward whom his wrath is targeted. Isaiah explains: If a strong virile young lion stands growling over a sheep it has killed, how frightened is he over a handful of shouting shepherds?
This is how the Lord of Heaven‘s Armies will stand defending his people. He is God of the ancient days. He is God of the present and he is God of the future as well. He fears nothing. Lord, there has never been, nor shall there be, a God like our God. There is no sentinel fear when the Lord God commands the divine forces.
The people of God have only to look to the history of how God works in the Old Testament on their behalf. He is devoted to his people. He will discipline his people and he will deliver his people. The example of this is seen repeatedly, as in this passage.
Because God loves Judah he disciplines her, harshly if necessary (vv12-17). His devotion to Judah is unquestioned (vv18–22). Finally, his deliverance comes as Judah turns to him in repentance. His deliverance is utterly complete. Lord, your past deliverance gives this old sentry great hope for today and for the future.
Even in the midst of suffering God is not far from his sinful rebellious child. He stands by to teach us, to instruct us by his voice. When once we have surrendered to him it will be clear the way in which we are to go (vv19-21).
The way which we choose will reject all other gods. We will be happy to destroy the idols in our lives and put Jehovah God at the center. In response God will heal his people and cure them from the wounds he gave them. If this sentry is to know daily renewal then certainly he must daily surrender afresh to God.
If my beloved country is to know renewal and spiritual awakening then she must turn in repentance to the God of her fathers.
For those who might think that God is not capable allowing mal-treatment, think again. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but God does orchestrate pain and suffering in our lives. The divine difference is, God intends for our pain or suffering to bring about a redemptive purpose.
A friend was talking about the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” He answered his own question from Mat 19:17. There is no one good but God. “Jesus said unto him, ‘Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God’ “.Pretty much tells me all I need to know.
God is sovereign over all, but he did not create evil and bad things. He permits evil and bad things, then he overrules such things for his own wise and holy ends. He makes even the fruits of all evil of all time to work for our benefit.* Interestingly, God waits on our invitation to enter in and rescue us (v19) – ASK!
Father, give this old sentry the discernment to continue trusting your ways in my life, to always work for my good and your glory.