“Sola Gratia”

Prayer: Stay true to the doctrine of salvation by grace alone (Phi 3:2–4). #GraceAlone https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.2-4.nlt

IT IS ENOUGH

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.

IT IS ENOUGH

Walkin’ The Talk

Prayer: Stand strongly united in faith; walk worthy of the Kingdom (Phi 1:27–29). #StandUnitedInFaith #WalkWorthyOfTheKingdom https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.27-29.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul knows his release from prison is possible, but not a “slam dunk” (v27a). So he encourages the Philippian church to make their conduct becoming, as they are citizens of Heaven. They represent the Gospel of Christ. No matter the circumstances, they should stand united in faith. They should not be intimidated by those who deride them and the entire cause of Christ.

Your life and witness is a challenge to the pagan culture around you. It serves to reveal that the enemies of the cross will be destroyed and believers will be vindicated, both by God himself. You can take that to the bank! So stand firm as Kingdom citizens. Lord, may This old sentry stand faithful and be found worthy of the Kingdom in the face of persecution and difficult times.

The Malevolent Preacher

Prayer: Be motivated by genuine love (Phi 1:15-19). #DoNoHarm #MalevolenceCancer https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.15-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

What kind of person would be motivated to preach the Gospel to make someone else miserable? Who would be so malevolent as to use preaching as a cudgel to hurt someone else? Who would guess that ministers/preachers would be so jealous, so envious of another as to use their ministry to somehow cause harm to another minister and his/her ministry?Paul here identifies some as just that.

These jealous, envious preachers were standing in judgment of the apostle; using Paul’s imprisonment to cause him pain (we’re not told how) and advance their own ministry. Ecclesiastes 4:4,5 says the envy of others will only lead to ruin. In Philippians 2:3,4 Paul will exhort to do nothing out of envy. In the meantime Paul is content to lean on the prayers of others and the careful guidance of God.

Someone has said, you won’t make your candle shine brighter by blowing out somebody else’s candle. Father, give this old sentry a heart of genuine love.

A Charge To Keep*

Prayer: Stand faithful to the call of God on your life (Col 4:17,18). #AChargeToKeep #StandFaithful #LastWords

A CHARGE TO KEEP (by artist W.H.D. Koerner)

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

These are Paul’s last words to the Colossians. They are directed to Archippus: “Carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” A similar charge is given to Timothy (2Ti 4:5). It is not known for certain what role Archippus played in the Colossian church. He was an early convert to Christianity. He may have been the pastor of this church. To be faithful to the call of God was a solemn “Charge To Keep” by Archippus.

Finally, Paul, in his own handwriting, asked that the church “remember [his] chains.” He asked that they be mindful that he is in prison for preaching the gospel and to pray for him. He may also have meant that he was giving his very life for the truths that he has expressed in this letter to these Colossians. Father, the prayer sentry can give no less to his/her call to ministry and the living out of faith.

________________

*It is worthy to note that George W Bush, then Governor of Texas (1999), wrote a book entitled, A Charge To Keep; named for the old Methodist hymn** by Charles Wesley – 1762 (based on Lev 8:35).

A painting of the same title (by artist WHD Koerner), on loan to Bush, hung in the Oval Office of President George W Bush. Bush states that the scene of the cowboy charging up the hill “epitomizes our mission. We serve One greater than ourselves.” Also interesting to note is that a closer look at the painting reveals that the charging cowboy looks a lot like Bush himself.

**Hymn: A CHARGE TO KEEP I HAVE

A charge to keep I have,

A God to glorify,

A never-dying soul to save,

And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,

My calling to fulfill:

Oh, may it all my powers engage,

To do my Masters will!

Arm me with a jealous care,

As in Thy sight to live;

And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare

A strict account to give.

Help me to watch and pray,

And on Thy self rely,

Assured, if I my trust betray

I shall forever die.

The Right To Refuse

PRAYER: Turn your focus from self to God (Col 3:5-7). #DenySelf #DenyTheFlesh https://www.bible.com/116/col.3.5-7.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Here, Paul moves from the ideal of “death to self“ (v3) to the practical working out of that principle in reality, in the believer’s daily life. Every day this body of flesh will challenge the right of God to be in control. This is nowhere seen more clearly than in sexual sin, immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. All of these sins of the flesh say, “SATISFY ME!”

Self is obsessed with itself, the adoration and worship of itself. This is what brings God’s displeasure. These sins will not only be judged in eternity, they will also incur their own judgment here and now. Who has not felt that condemnation? Father, I rely upon your strength to turn from sin to you. I reserve the “right to refuse” service to self.

Prayer: The Ultimate Necessity

Pray earnestly and regularly (Col 1:9). #Prayer #PrayEarnestly https://www.bible.com/59/col.1.9.esv

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

When Paul says, “We have not stopped praying for you…“ he is not making some impromptu, casual remarks. He intends with all earnestness to point the Colossian church to the great God of all creation. Prayer is not a bargaining chip, an after thought or a therapeutic exercise in meditation. Prayer is the means by which God achieves his purposes in this world.

Paul speaks in the tradition of Jesus who instructed his disciples to “pray earnestly” (Luke 10:2); who taught that “men are always to pray and not faint” (Luk 18:1). Lord, prayer and the reading of your word is essential to sentry’s growth and effectiveness as a follower of Christ; to the advancement of the Gospel in this world.

She Failed To Ask

Do you mourn, will you weep for those who refuse to seek God (Isa 22:5-11)? #WillAmericaReturnToGod https://www.bible.com/116/isa.22.5,8-11.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Oh the beautiful valley in which the city of Jerusalem sits; it is now filled with enemy chariots of war (vv6,7). Why? Because the people of God rejected him. Judah trusted in her own self-made plans. She built her war chests against the Assyrian enemy. She ran to her armories. She sought to shore up her breached walls. She stored up her reservoirs for war. She did everything but ask God for his help.

Today, I hear much rhetoric from politicians, educators, corporate, media and activist leaders, yea, even the citizenry. There is much talk of war against their perceived enemies. Like Jerusalem against her Assyrian enemy, America runs for her political arsenals, she seeks to shore up her walls of political advantage. She works furiously to fill her political reservoirs. But defeat on all sides will be as swift and sure as was Jerusalem‘s. Why? History teaches us. Because, like Jerusalem, in all of America’s self made plans, her leaders have abandoned the people (v3). She arrogantly pursues her own interests. She never stops to ask for God’s help. He is the one who sets her back on her heels; and though rejected by her, loves her and would save her. If she would only ask.

All of this presses this old sentry to his knees in prayer and mourning for my beloved country. Oh that she might seek for God’s help.

The Best “In” Worst Of Times

You may have hope and courage in the worst of times (Isaiah 28:5–8; 35:1-10). # GodsRemnant #StreamsInTheDesert https://www.bible.com/116/isa.28.5-8.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Whatever the judgments of God on a people, there will always be a remnant. They often go unseen and unnoticed during times of spiritual squalor. While kings and priests and prophets and judges are lost in their filthy lifestyles, reel and stagger in their vision of self aggrandizement and judgments, the remnant of God stand watch.

While the nation falters, God’s remnant goes to battle in prayer and righteous living. The Lord is their pride and joy. He is their justice and their mighty courage. They are to God a “highway of holiness” a flowing “stream in the desert.” For God’s remnant, sorrow shall forever flee (Isa 35:1–10). Oh Lord, you give this old sentry hope in the worst of times.

Christianity, “CANCELED!”

Have courage to stand for Christ (Acts 28:17-11). #PersecutedChristians https://www.bible.com/116/act.28.17-22.nlt if I

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Within three days of his arrival in Rome, Paul calls together a meeting with local Jewish leaders. His goal? To get acquainted with them and explain why he has been incarcerated by Roman authorities. He wishes to share with them what he believes is the hope of Israel – Messiah has come.

They know nothing of Paul’s trouble with the Jews in Judea. What they do know is that “the movement,” Christianity, is “denounced everywhere.“ There are many in Rome who have believed in Jesus. There Faith is denounced – “CANCELED.” These Christians were seen as a threat, as they believed in God as a higher authority, higher than Caesar.

Under Nero many Christians were murdered, tortured and burned alive. Today in many parts of the world Christians are tortured and murdered. Father, I pray for persecuted Christians around the world. May I have courage myself to stand for Christ if and when called upon to do so.

Preserved For Purpose

Certainly God will preserve you until your purpose in life has been fulfilled (Acts 28:3-6). #PreservedForPurpose #GodHasAPlan https://www.bible.com/116/act.28.3-6.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The island in the Mediterranean Sea upon which Paul’s ship was wrecked was Malta. It was a populated island and Luke reports that the people (Phoenicians) were kind and hospitable towards the ship wrecked visitors (vv1,2). They assisted the survivors (in the rain), building a fire.

When Paul had laid wood on the fire a poisonous snake bit him on the hand. When Paul shook it off and did not die, the people thought he was a god. But no, he was just a man…a man on a mission for God. God once again delivered Paul, his man, carrying his message. God preserves safe those who love him and are called according to his purposes. Lord, you have preserved this old sentry for a purpose. You shall preserve me to the end.

From my watchtower you can hear singing in the Morning Watch, those aged words…

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; [His] grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

Psychology Of The Christian Witness

Be sincere and compassionate in your witness for Christ (Acts 26:24,25,27-29). #SincerelyBold #DontBruseTheFruit https://www.bible.com/116/act.26.24-25,27-29.nlt

MIRNING WATCH NOTES:

At the conclusion of Paul’s defense, Governor Festus blurts out, “Too much study has made you crazy [Paul].” Paul says, “Not really. It’s just the truth.” Paul then turns to King Agrippa and presses him for a decision, “Do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” Agrippa says, “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?” Paul says, “Yes, I really wish I could.” The two sarcastic remarks (Festus, v24 and Agrippa, v28) are designed to cover how they really felt. Paul was getting through.

Sarcasm can reveal a whole range of emotions (interesting field of study*). Sarcasm is usually a cover for how someone really feels. The best response to sarcasm however, is to focus on the content of a sarcastic statement and not on the tone. Paul’s response to their sarcasm is neither mean-spirited nor defensive. Paul is genuine, self-confident and understanding (vv25,29). Lord, may I possess such sincerity and compassion in my witness for Christ.

* https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/mental-health/how-to-deal-with-sarcastic-people

Above “Cancel Culture”

Keep sharing the gospel even in a “Cancel Culture” (Acts 25:14-27). #AboveCancelCulture #LibertyFollowsGrace https://www.bible.com/116/act.25.14-15,17-18,23-27.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

“Cancel Culture“ is nothing new. Jesus was a victim of “Cancel Culture.” Weak politicians enable a culture that seeks to silence whatever does not fit their agenda or narrative. Two Governors, Felix and Festus, sought to appease the Jews of Palestine (a religious special interest group). They sought to “Cancel” the apostle Paul. Now King Agrippa would join in to silence, to cancel, the claims of Christianity. The goal was to shut down Paul’s revolutionary message of grace.

What does the Christian do when politicians and special interest groups seek to silence the gospel message? The Christian does what Paul did. He was relentless in sharing the message of Christ. No “Cancel Culture” will stamp out the gospel message of Jesus. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2Co 3:17). Lord, enable sentries in the watchtowers to always, in every way, rise above the “Cancel Culture” of the day.

Tenacious Stand

Never fear to stand for what is right and just (Acts 25:6–12). #DoTheRightThing #StandForTruth https://www.bible.com/116/act.25.9-11.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

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.

Expect The Best, Plan For The Worst

Fix your heart on Christ in times of suffering (Acts 21:27,28,30,35,36). #TrustGod #SufferingForChrist https://www.bible.com/116/act.21.27-28,30,35-36.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

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.

A Different Drumbeat

Find your delight and joy in the counsels of God’s Word (Psm 1:1,2). #DifferentDrumbeat #MarchToADifferentDrummer https://www.bible.com/116/psa.1.1-2.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

To The Fight

Never lose sight of the enemy, who is against you (1Pe 5:8–10). #BeAlert #BeWatchful https://www.bible.com/116/1pe.5.8-10.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 32 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, I pray that my family and friends stay alert to the strategies of Satan to destroy them; that they remain firm in their faith.

It is important that believers carry out the standing orders of the duty sentry.

1) Stay alert – don’t be sleepy-eyed. The enemy is real and ready to take advantage of the sleeping sentry.

2) Be vigilant – expectant. Look out watchfully for the enemy to show up at any moment.

3) Resist the enemy – hold out, oppose and repel the enemy by,

4) being steadfast in the faith (immovable, secure).

5) Remember that you have many brothers and sisters throughout the world fighting the good fight and standing watch with you.

Know this, He [God] who has called you will be your strength against all odds and suffering. Father, let me never lose sight of who the enemy is or the battle that I am fighting.

Secure The Perimeter

Take positive steps to secure your thought life perimeter (Phi 4:8,9). #SecureThePerimeter https://www.bible.com/97/php.4.8-9.msg

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

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.

“HOOAH!” *

Enthusiastically carry out God‘s commands (1Co 16:3,4). #Hooah! https://www.bible.com/116/1co.16.13-14.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 8 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends show enthusiasm for obedience to your word. The apostle Paul issues five sentinel orders; five imperatives that some up his message in First Corinthians:

1) BE ALERT (awake, vigilant, on guard and alive) to the Evil One’s strategies. 2) STAND FIRM (planted in, anchored in) the truth of the gospel – trust in God‘s truthfulness. 3) BE COURAGEOUS (mature, confident) to speak truth in love and conviction. 4) BE STRONG (as in well fed) nourished and growing in the truth. 5) BE LOVING; love moderates all the attitudes and actions of the sentry on duty.

“HOOAH!” – YES LORD!

* According to Stars & Stripes (military news paper) – “HOOAH” (or “huah”) is unique to the Army. Some say it stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged,” but it is often shouted to express determination and Army spirit. “HOOAH!”

The Best Rule In Life

Allow humility to overrule any pride in your life (Isa 22:15-19). #Humility #PrideGoesBeforeAFall https://www.bible.com/116/isa.22.15-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Scripture does not reveal Isaiah’s purpose for singling out Shebna, the king’s steward (secretary). But he was extremely prideful. So highly did he think of himself that he was preparing his grave high up on Mt. Zion. Shebna considered himself worthy of the burial of kings (2Ch 32:33).

But according to Isaiah, God will coil Shebna up into a little ball. He will hurl him into a far away barren land (presumably Assyria). He will disappear, never to be heard from again. Pride, the abuse of power and influence, will not stand with God (2:11,12). Lord, may humility over rule any pride in my heart and in the hearts of our leaders.

THE SENTRY’S GUIDE TO HUMILITY:

Pray for insight into God’s word.

Spend time daily reading God’s word.

Digest the truths of God’s word.

Write a few notes on what God says.

Let God’s word control your actions.

Put other’s best interests ahead of your own.

“HOLIDAYS GOD”

ALTAR TO THE UNKNOWN GOD

(Acts 17:22-24,27-29,32-34) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Acts%2017:22-24,27-29,32-34&version=NLT

What does this world have in common with the ancient Athenian culture at Christmas?

I read in Acts 17 that the Athenians were worshipping an “unknown god.” They of course didn’t want to accidentally leave out some god whom they did not know and thus offend the divine. This is political correctness at its best (maybe worst) in ancient Athens.

“So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’”

Satan, the god of this world, has led our contemporary culture down the same path of political correctness. Soon, there will not be much left of the historic meaning of Christmas. We are left with simply a hollow “winter holiday,” devoid of the Christ, devoid of its true meaning.

This is our challenge: As fewer and fewer people understand the true meaning of Christmas, we who know this God, like Paul, must declare Jesus, “whom they do not know” (Acts 17:23).

The world worships at the altar of the “holidays god,” whom they do not know. So, we must proclaim Jesus to them who do not know HIM and we must do so with joy at the opportunity. We say with Paul,

“This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.”

Christmas is a time to share the greatest message on earth; the message of the one true God. “Behold the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, meaning, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He is, “The son of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

He is God who can be known

He has a name

His name Is Immanuel

The God who is with us

Scripture says that some laughed and derided Paul. But others said, “We want to hear more…[and] some joined [Paul] and became believers.”

He is God who can be known

He has a name

His name Is Immanuel

The God who is with us

Time To Thrive

Keep flourishing in your love relationship with God (Isa 29:2-4,9-12). #WalkWithGod https://www.bible.com/116/isa.29.2-4,9-12.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

While God is a God of love and long-suffering, he is at the same time a “no-fool-around“ God. He is a loving God who is jealous for his people. He will do whatever it takes to bring his people back into a loving relationship with him.

God will become your fiercest adversary if necessary, to call you back to himself. Disaster may come your way. Pain and suffering may come your way. There will be no rest, only distress and unease. There will be no voice to console or guide. Take it from one who has been down that road. Lord, keep the dutiful sentry in a thriving, never fading, love relationship with you.