Rid yourself of anything that comes between you and God (2Ch 34:1–7). #WhenIdolsFall #SeekGodWithYourWholeHeart
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
So, young Josiah was eight years old when he became king of Judah (he followed his wicked father Amon). It is hard to know exactly how and when the prophet Zephaniah may have influenced Josiah, but by age sixteen he had begun to earnestly seek Jehovah God.
Then, at age twenty, Josiah destroyed every pagan shrine, altar, carved image and symbol of the pagan god Baal. He purified, cleansed, all of Judah and Jerusalem. Revival was on the way. Lord, I see that revival begins when I seek you and my heart is cleansed of every idol (something I love more than you).
Maintain a pure heart towards God, free of ungodly influence (Zph 1:2-6). #GiveGodAPureHeart #ForsakeUngodlyWorship #VeraciousDevotionToGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Zephaniah unloads a stark message from God to the people of Judah. One of the greatest sins of Judah, if not the greatest, was the worship of Baal, the worship of Molech. These pagan gods were hideous in their nature. They elevated child sacrifice, burned by fire – destroyed.
Ashtaroth was a third popular (female) God, although not mentioned here, but by other prophets of God. So, sexual rites and temple prostitutes were in abundance. Impressive temple structures, loud music and lude dancing had captivated the hearts of God’s people. Lord, give this intercessor sentry a pure heart, free from the worship of any other gods but you.
Express true repentance and change for genuine renewal (2Ch 33:14–17). #TrueRepentance
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
“I’m sorry,“ may get a do over, but “I repent,” changes everything. What happens when God sends renewal to a person soul? Often after a crisis in a person’s life comes deep remorse and apologies (vv11–13). In the case of King Manasseh, he appears to have made amends. He began to secure his kingdom against further attack. He removed idols from the temple and rebuilt the alters to Jehovah God.
But, the people were never really led to reform. They continued to worship pagan deities. Manasseh’s efforts were worthy, but not nearly what we would call “total surrender.“ It was more of an, “I’ll fix this Lord,“ approach to his leadership. Lord, it is never enough to simply be sorry for sin. Genuine change must come. “True religion is not a way of doing certain things. It is a certain way of doing everything.“ – James T Draper
Be not drawn by the world away from faith in Christ (2Ti 4:9,10). #Deserter
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Among Paul’s closing words to Timothy, he mentions Demas. I had a pastor in the mid-1970s who preached a message on Demas. I’ve never forgotten it. He showed the progression of a man from follower of Jesus to failed deserter of the faith. All that is known of Demas is in three verses. But the message is clear.
In Philemon 1:24, Demas is called,“fellow laborer.“ In Colossians 4:14, he is listed last, with no ministry designation. Finally, here, he is listed as “deserter.” Lost to the things of the world. Somewhere along the way the gospel seed in him was overwhelmed by the world (Mat 13:22). Lord, it is my joy and my testimony, by grace, to have lived out many years in faithfulness to you.
Stand faithful in the face of human vanity and flagrant disdain for God (2Ti 3:1,2a). #LastDays #SovereignGod #StandFaithful
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
“In the last days.“ I ought to view the days in which I live with as much urgency as Paul viewed the days in which he lived. Certainly the days in which I live are every bit as difficult as the days in which Paul lived.
People love and elevate themselves and their wealth, as much today as in Paul’s day.Men are boastful in their own strength and abilities (witness Vladimir Putin invasion of Ukraine). Many scoff at the idea of God and his sovereign will over men.
Paul wants young Timothy (every Believer) to be alert to these things and be prepared in Christ to lead others through such days. Lord, I see, I am, alert today to the same vanity of men and disdain for the things of God. Enable me to stand faithful in the face of such godless behavior.
Scripture is clear (Old and New Testaments) that caring for those in need is an essential part of biblical faith. This was/is especially true for widows and orphans, those unable to care for themselves (no family to care for them). [Note: Psm 68:5; Isaiah 1:17; Exo 22:22-24; Deu 14:28,29; Gal 2:9,10; Jas 1:27; Mat 25:32–46; Acts 6:1–3]
In this passage Paul addresses widows in general. According to John MacArthur this may include any woman left alone by divorce, desertion, imprisonment or death. She is suddenly left alone and is either without children to care for her or she is left with young children and unable to meet her family‘s needs. This is an untenable situation. The church must act with compassion.
Lord made my heart [the heart of my church] be always open and sensitive to the needs of those in desperate need.
Be alert to false and deceptive teaching (1Ti 4:1-5). #NotAllThatGlittersIsGold #TestTheSpirits #WolvesInSheepsClothing
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Paul instructs Timothy to be alert to “teachers“ who stray away from the truth and follow deceptive spirits. They say one thing but do another and are not convicted of it. They make rules and disdain what is good, expressing their self-righteousness.
Believers should be reminded that everything God created is good. Believers are to evaluate all things being taught according to the word of God and prayer (see also 1Jn 4:1-3). Reject what is wrong according to God’s word. Embrace what is good as from God with thanksgiving. Lord, keep this duty sentry alert to any teaching that is contrary to your word and sound the alarm.
To understand Paul’s comments about women in this passage one need only do a quick study of the goddess Diana (enshrined in Ephesus where Timothy was pastor). “Wonder Woman“ is our modern day equivalent. Reading Acts 19 reveals the degree to which this female goddess (also known as Artemis) was revered.
Diana was a strong, sensual and masculine model whose traits, no doubt, had a marked influence on women who were being converted to Christ and taking part in the church. Paul calls attention to this. He seeks to instruct women called by Christ out of this cult to be more modest in their dress and in their demeanor.
Lord, you have called us out of a world that is influenced by cultural icons. May my daughters (and my sons), honor you by their inner faith and actions for Christ.
Believe Christ came to free men from the law of sin and death (1Ti 1:8-11). #BELIEVE
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Paul refutes the self proclaimed “teachers“ in Ephesus who were mixing grace and the law of Moses. He explains that “the law is good…when used [applied] correctly.“ The law was not given as a list of rules to keep (Gal 5:1) – if you’re 100% righteous you don’t need the law. But who is that righteous? No one! (Rom 3:10)
The law condemns the lawbreaker (note 1Ti 1:9,10). The law is judge, jury and executioner of every man. The law was given to expose man’s sin, that which is rebellious towards God (Gal 3:19). Sin is an attitude of the heart that rebels against God. Lord, your law has taught me that I am hopelessly lost and condemned without the grace of Christ.
Be honest with God in all your worship (Isa 66:3,4). #BeReal #WorshipGodInTruth
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
I am to always be on my guard for any spirit of hypocrisy in my worship. Regarding worship as merely perfunctory performance to impress God or others is an abomination to God. Or to come to worship with sin and pride in my heart is anathema to God. Jesus compares hypocrisy to “Whitewashed graves. Beautiful on the outside but full of rot and decay on the inside” (Mat 23:27,28)
God compares the hypocritical spirit to four detestable kinds of sacrifice (Isa 66:3): human sacrifice, the sacrifice of dogs on the altar of atonement, the blood of hogs offered as thanks to God and incense offered as if an appeasement to some foreign God. Hypocrisy in worship is a deliberate sin against God. The outcome according, to Isa 66:4, will result in great troubles for the offender. Lord, search my heart for any disingenuous worship of you.
Put your faith in Jehovah God who is sovereign over all destiny (Isa 65 12–16). #NoKarmaHere #ChooseTheGodOfAllDestiny
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
God’s people had forsaken God for another path, looking for some out of reach “destiny“ (v11) – the perfect high, the perfect relationship, the perfect job, the perfect education and the like. They put their faith in things that never satisfy. But God is the source of all true destiny (v12). He alone delivers on true meaning in life.
Serving God is to eat of the food of genuine life, to quench our thirst for real meaning; it means to express a spirit of joy and singing, to be a blessing to others and to desire living in truth and living for God. Otherwise our destiny, according to God, will be fraught with meaninglessness, grief and despair. Choosing God as the Lord of all destiny is the clear choice. I reject any idea of “karma” as a path to meaning in life. I choose Jehovah God as sovereign Lord of my destiny.
Judah is getting her day in court. God lays out his case for unfaithfulness and consequently her 70 years of captivity in Babylon. The church today would do well to pay attention to charges brought against Judah.
The church is not exempt from phony piety, prideful and self-indulgent leaders (56:9-12), unholy alliances with strange gods, and unfaithfulness to God (57:3-8), oppression of the weak, narcissism (58:3), infighting/bickering (58:4), et al.
Yet, in all this rebellion and unfaithfulness, God stands ready to forgive at the first sign of genuine repentance toward him (57:18–21). Lord, search my wayward heart; show me any unfaithfulness to you; lead me according to your ways.
Man need look no further than nature and the universe to see the hand of God (Rom 1:20). No mere botanist could command the heavens on a world wide timetable to fertilize the earth for eons. No mere theologian could have divined such a marvelous plan of redemption for all the earth and all the men in it, time immemorial. In fact, they follow after the “a priori“ acts of God.
Men simply study to try and understand what God has already done and/or has spoken through his word. God has ordained all of nature, the universe and his word to honor his name and be an everlasting sign of his power and love. Everything works together to achieve God’s grand purposes. Lord, give me an open heart; this simple sentry cannot wrap his mind around so great a plan of redemption.
May your spiritual passion for relationship with God be restored (Acts 2:42–47). #PassionForGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
The new Christians in Acts DEVOTED themselves to the teachings of the apostles, fellowship, worship, prayer and witness. They were DEVOTED, PASSIONATE, in these things. These are the things I too ought to be passionate about. But somehow I lose my passion. I get complacent and/or apathetic. I lose my passion when the things I do become rote or mechanical. Things become all too familiar.
What is passion? Passion means “to be moved,” by something. “Spiritual Passion” means to be moved by God. To lose my passion is to no longer be moved by God. I become distracted by all the mechanics and preparations to teach, fellowship, worship, pray or witness. Or, I am just distracted by all the mechanics of life and living. Lord, I desperately need a recalibration of my focus on knowing you. I need to focus on you, not as a means to an end, but focus on you as the end itself.
Lord, reignite the flame of spiritual passion in this old sentry.
The God of Israel, which is to say, the God of our salvation, has no equal (vv3–5). The Babylonian gods, “Bel and Nebo“ (v1), are harmless against the God of Israel (Bel, chief domestic god; Nebo, god of wisdom and learning (47:10), are man-made gods (lies) that deceive men to think that they know more than God). The arrogant Babylonians will learn this lesson the hard way.
The gods of this world (power, fame, wealth, might, knowledge, et al.) lead men away from dependence upon the one true God. That is a sure fire way to lose the blessing of God. If America is to know the blessing of God once again, she needs to deny those deceitful gods of this world and return to him. Lord, deliver my heart from a “know it all” attitude. Deliver my beloved country from prideful dependence upon anything but you.
Men with fleshly attitudes will always rail against God’s plans. It is true from time immemorial. Man stood in opposition to God in the garden and in the days of the Kings of Israel. They stood against Christ in his birth and in his life. They stood against the spread of the Gospel. They have stood, times without number, against revivals led by the Holy Spirit. How’d all that work out?
Men of the flesh act like clay in the potter’s hands telling the potter, “You don’t know what you are doing. Your hands have no skill.“ No matter, God continues his program of mercy and Redemption. There will be no refuting God’s work among men. Those who refute God will be dishonored. “The Lord of Heaven‘s Armies has spoken!“ Lord you are my Creator, my Deliverer, my redeemer. Mold my life according to your will – I yield to your skilled hands.
Idols: they are, at once, both ironic and absurd. Men forging idols out of wood or metal to worship, are incongruent, contradictory and nonsensical. The Lord scoffs at those who create idols with their own hands. They manufacture images to be worshiped out of wood and metal that the Holy one created.
Crafters cut down trees, use them for fire wood to cook or warm themselves. Then, with what’s left over, they carve out images to prize and worship. Really? Is that not foolish, absurd? None of these handcrafted idols can reveal, redeem or restore anything. But the Holy One, he can and he will. Lord, I come with assurance to the Holy One of Israel. I trust no other.
We have the written word of God to guide us. But faith is more than a book of code to follow. How that “Code“ is followed, lived out, is also important. Therefore, we have examples to follow. Paul says, “Follow my example” (follow me as I follow Christ – 1Cor 11:1). Paul says we may also follow the example of others (like Timothy and Epaphroditus).
I have had a lifetime of examples to follow – parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, associates, friends – many godly examples of the “Code,” the word of God. I in turn am an example to others of that “Code.” I have witnessed the “Code” at work In others. Lord, may I honor and live out the sentry’s “Code” for others to see.
Do you want to argue salvation by works? [“If I do this thing or that well, I will be saved.”] One might ask, “Well, how much good will be enough to assure one’s salvation?“ Paul argues, “None of it. It’s all Rubbish!” You want to argue good works? Paul would out do any and all challengers (v4). He was as Jewish as it gets (vv5,6).
Any and all the credentials of goodness are of no value for salvation. Only Christ’s infinite worthiness can gain us salvation (vv7,8). Becoming one with Christ, we take on his righteousness. We become righteous by faith in Christ alone. So give me Jesus (vv9-11). Lord, I will put my confidence in you alone for my eternal destiny. All the rest is just, “stinkin’ thinkin’.”
Paul is here warning the believers in Philippi to put no confidence in the works of the flesh for salvation. Whereas, devout Jews considered Gentiles as “dogs,“ he flipped the table on these so-called Judaizers. He calls them, “dogs.” They taught that for a gentle to become a true believer one must be circumcised. NOT SO! It could not be said any stronger.
These Judaizers were nothing short of evil to perpetrate such a lie. The only effect of circumcision on salvation is a “mutilation of the flesh.“ True believers put no faith in such works of the flesh. True believers rely only on what Christ did at the cross for salvation. Lord, keep this old sentry alert to anything that would lead him away from the truth of salvation by grace alone.
Paul tells us we are to resist the temptation to feel condemnation for how we express our worship of God; the things you do or don’t do in worship. How we worship is not as important as who we worship. For all the traditions of worship are mere shadows that point to Christ himself.
Those who condemn us for how we worship are just not honoring God in Christ. They are too loud and too proud. Their worship practices have become the ends not the means of worship. They have totally missed the point and are certainly not surrendered to God in any way. Lord, may always exalt you and not the rituals of worship.
Who exactly is this agent of light Paul speaks of? Who effects man’s rescue from the empire of darkness and transfers us to the Empire of Light. It is here, beginning with Christ, that Paul begins his rebuttal of two philosophies that threaten the early Church, Syncretism and Gnosticism.* It is here that Christianity gets its most complete explanation of Christ’s singular deity above all others (Sōlus Christus).
Modern movements today that would reflect syncretistic or gnostic attributes might be The Jesus Seminar (est 1985). It does not accept the physical manifestations of the miracles, virgin birth or resurrection of Jesus. Another would be the New Age movement (est 1970s). It is an amalgamation of many humanistic self-actualization beliefs and spiritual views.
But Jesus is the only and undisputed Champion of redemption. He is the exact image, manifestation, of the living God. He is the preeminent and sovereign Lord of all and over all. His life, teachings, miracles and resurrection are rooted in historical fact. May Jesus be elevated in all things concerning my life today and always.
* Syncretism in religious terms merges multiple religious belief systems, traditions and practices into one new system.
*Gnosticism is a religious movement claiming that, 1) salvation is acquired on some mystical higher plane of secret knowledge, not from Scripture; known only by a few; 2) all matter is evil and the spirit is good. Anything done in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only. Vis-à-vis, Christ in human form could not be God. Gnosticism was perhaps the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries.