God is not a compliant enabling father. He knows just when and how to discipline. He knows the limits of our ability to withstand testing and trials (1Co 10:13). Discipline is always an option (Heb 12:10,11). It is clear that God is always prepared to discipline his people to purge them from sin (though not every trial is for sin-Jas 1:12; 2Co 12:17; Rom 5:3–6).
In the end, like a loving father, God will come to his own and comfort them. You can count on that. The end result of God‘s discipline is to return to him, to love and worship him. Lord I have known your loving discipline and your comforting embrace. I look to you for the correction and reproof that I need.
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.
Be alarmed and turn your wayward heart back to God (Isa 28:18-22). #TurnToGod #RepentTowardGod #ForeWarnedIsForeArmed
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
It ought to cause the people of God to shudder, to hear and to know that God is willing to trample his own when they continue headlong into sin and the rejection of his word. Instead they think they have outsmarted the coming judgment. But God will strike out, cancel, the deal his people have made with pagan forces to avoid judgment. The bed his people have made to lay in securely is wholly inadequate. The bed blankets are too narrow to cover them.
Just as God defeated the Philistines (Jos 10) and the Amorites (2Sa 5), so he will deliver a defeating, crushing blow to his own people. God’s people ought to be jolted into a repentance and surrender to Jehovah God. But they are not and time has run out. Oh Lord, awaken your people (awaken me) to the disaster ahead if we continue to trust in our own schemes and ingenuity. Bring this old sentry’s heart into alignment with your will and purpose.
Father, would you bring the heart of America into alignment with your will. Would you send revival into the church of America. May your people be alarmed and jolted at the high stakes at risk when there is no humble repentance toward God. I pray your Spirit to awaken the sleepy heart of America from her long slumber. May we we see a sweeping renewal of hearts toward God.
At times the people of God do not want to hear from the “intolerable moralist“ among them. They have become overconfident in their religiousity. They mock the man or woman of God and so, the message of God is also made a mockery. Such was the reaction of Israel and Judah towards the prophet Isaiah
How does that feel? I once told a brother that his lack of spiritual concern about some circumstances would lead to a bad outcome. I was told that my comments were simply an overreaction. They were not welcomed. Sadly, it turned out I was right. It took several years for that brother to recover.
To the religious know-it-all, God’s correction is all just baby talk to them – they do not wish to hear such repetitious and condescending gibberish. So God will oblige them. He will speak to them in another language. The language of an oppressor; the language of judgment. Perhaps then they will listen. Lord, may I always have an open and willing heart toward you.
When pagan, godless Assyrian settlers took over the land of God (Israel) they dishonored him by worshipping other gods. God sent a judgment of wild animals on them. It was recognized as such. When the Assyrian king heard about it, he sent one of the captive priests of God back to Israel to teach the new settlers how to worship the God of the land, Israel.
This would not qualify as full on repentance to God. But it does qualify as a step toward God. It shows that the temporal, remedial judgments of God can get the attention of even a pagan King. But, unlike the nation of Israel, he sought to find peace with God. Reconciliation with God is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus (Rom 5:1,2). Father, give me a heart to know that any temporal, remedial judgment in my life is your loving call, you talking to me, to repent.
Day 39 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my friends and family dwell on all things honorable and speak truth and healing.
Proverbs Chapter 12 reveals that men will be judged by what they think and what they say. Many there are who stay awake at night planning to do evil. They arise in the morning to carry out their plans. They lie and deceive with their tongue. Stinkin Thinkin!
But the wise and honest among us remain calm and just tell the truth. Their words bring healing. Truth always stands the test of time. Lies and dishonesty will be exposed. Know this, two things will influence what you think and say: 1) the books you read; 2) the friends you keep. So Lord, “fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I’ve said ‘nuff.” – Susan Jeffers
Day 23 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my family and friends be quick to seek God in repentance.
In Psalm 51 we find king David’s prayer of repentance for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11&12). No one, not even the greatest among us, is immune from sin. There are times without number that I have myself failed in so many ways. Yet God, in his grace and mercy, saw and heard in me a contrite, broken heart and he forgave me (v17).
It is no stretch to think that I may ask God to create (do something new) in my heart and renew in me a spirit of joy and faithfulness toward God. Jesus said in John 6:37 that all who come to him will never be rejected. Lord, you have never once denied this sentry the renewal, the refreshing, I have needed to remain loyal to you.
Day 20 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my family and friends maintain a healthy and pure thought like.
Job made a “covenant with his eyes“ not to look with lust after a woman. The “eye” in Scripture equates to a spirit of understanding; the thought life. Jesus makes this point in Matthew 6:22,23. Job is essentially making a promise to himself for his own good, not to allow lust to gain control in his life.
What is lust? It is the long look, the second look, the intentional look. The first look may be unavoidable. But the second look is a choice. One must choose to “UNLOOK”; to maintain a spirit of purity. If my eyes don’t look, my heart won’t wander into lust.
Reign in where your eyes wander (on the street, in books and magazines, movies, TV and internet). The theme song of the movie, Jeremiah Johnson says this, “The way that you wander is the way that you choose.” Lord, may this sentry on duty honor you with the choices I make with my eyes and my thought life.
Day 18 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends put self to death on the cross of Christ and live daily for him by your Spirit.
My old self (once a slave to the Sin Master) has been crucified with Christ. God sees my death as a legal transaction. The old self died with Christ. With that, my sins were removed from me as far as the east is from the west (Psm 103:12). Galatians 2:20 is my “Death Certificate.“
But, yet shall I live, because if I died with Christ I also was raised with him. Romans 10:9,10 is my “Birth Certificate.“ One day I will be seated with Christ in glory (Eph 2:6). I have the seal of that promise in the Holy Spirit (2Co 1:21; Eph 1:13). Lord, may I live a freeborn man in Christ Jesus.
FREEBORN! My new nature is free to praise the Lord Jesus Christ who purchased my freedom at the cross of Calvary.
FREEBORN! Eternally separated from the harmful and deadly control of the old sin nature. He is dead, vanquished by the blood of Christ.
FREEBORN! Free to choose as never before. Free to walk in life eternal. Free to act in kindness and love. Free to follow Jesus.
FREEBORN! Chains of sin broken, chains of bondage shattered, by the New Man, Jesus Christ, who lives in me.
FREEBORN! Free to serve and do the works of God. Ashamed of nothing. Prepared for eternity. Telling the world, “You can be FREEBORN!”
Day 17 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, lead my family and friends to reject Satan’s lies that corrupt our hearts.
When I repented of my sin and Jesus became my Lord, I turned my back on the old Sin master. I turned in the opposite direction and swore my allegiance to a new master, King Jesus. But the old nature still lurks around, tries to convince me I’m still a reflection of my old self.
Satan wants me to believe that nothing has changed in me. But that is a lie. I may fail in my obedience to Jesus from time to time, but I am definitely not a reflection of the person I used to be. When I confess my sin to God, I agree with him that he has changed me for the better. He continues to cleanse and to forgive me. Without you Lord, my life would be an intolerable mess.
Day 10 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends live free in Christ, no longer obedient to Sin’s mastery.
“There is no condemnation to those in Christ.“ Perfect example is Jesus confronting a bunch of self-righteous, religious zealots in Jerusalem. He confronts their hypocrisy as sinners, condemning another sinner. He exposes their sin first. Then he turns his attention to the one who was condemned.
“Where are your accusers?“ Jesus asks. “None of them can condemn you; neither do I. Go and sin no more“ (Jhn 8:1–11). Christ’s life-giving Spirit frees us from the power of King Sin. I am no longer Sin’s slave in rebellion against God. I am free to obey my new supreme commander, Jesus.
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.
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.
There are a couple of lessons to be learned from Isaiah‘s only prophecy targeting two men personally:
1) It requires a person of enormous strength of character to serve in high office. Many have fallen from High stations – be careful what you wish for.
2) There is an independent streak in man. Men/women have a great propensity to rebel against God. No matter who you are, how spiritual you may be, it is always possible to fall out of favor with God and with man.
Lord, it is the desire of my heart to always walk faithfully before you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is nothing short of naïve for the prodigal to think he/she can stand against the furious love of God. In verse 11, prodigal Judah says to God, “Butt out of my life.“ God says, “Thanks, I’ll take that challenge.“ Collapse will soon follow (12–14). The only way out is to turn back to God.
If you think you can out run God you do not understand his swiftness. He will batter your prideful self-will and make of you a tattered banner on a lonely hill. Then he will wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. God loves you. He will wait. Turn while there is yet time.
Lord, many years ago, this aged sentry was that tattered banner on a lonely hill. Ironically, I was on sentinel duty in a guard tower high above the Saigon River in Vietnam (Dec 28, 1968). It was in the early morning watch, in that guard tower, that my prodigal heart was turned to you. I haven’t heard from that wayward heart since. You are faithful.
To run to “Egypt“ is to run back to bondage. The people of God may expend great wealth at great personal risk to satisfy their own fleshly pleasure in “Egypt” and ignore God. But in the end, “Egypt“ will deliver nothing. What is this “Egypt” of the soul but a, promise much and do nothing, land of enchantment.
The prophet and the word of God stands as an eternal witness against the stubborn prodigal. But the rebel heart says, “Shut up about doing ‘what is right’. Don’t be so narrow-minded. Do not speak to me of the ‘Holy One’.“ Oh, how such words break the heart of God. Lord, would you give the sentry on duty an ear for the truth of your word.
Lord, please intervene into the life of America with grace and mercy. Bring her out of her blind stupor for the things of “Egypt.” May she be alert to the danger ahead, repent and return to God. I pray that truth, righteousness and the love of/and for God would rise up in her soul.
The threat of the Assyrian empire to Judah and Israel was real. Fear was driving God’s people to look to other world powers for their salvation. In their sin they were acting like rebellious children. They were frantically seeking a way out of the discipline that was coming, as promised by God.
Instead of running to God they were running away, into the arms of a crumbling nation. Their ill-advised alliance with Egypt would be powerless to save them. They would be shamed and disgraced. There will be suffering when God’s children make plans not directed by his Spirit. Lord, may this sentry always say, “When I am afraid I will trust in God alone“ (Psm 56:3).
When once the wayward, rebellious, child of God surrenders, his/her whimpers of repentance are heard from on high (v4). Then, like the father greeting the prodigal home from the far country of sin, God is first on the scene to help. This is the message of the prophets.
The enemies, the attackers, God had used to discipline his child will be crushed. Their course of pain and suffering will come to a sudden end. They will be driven away by heaven’s armies. They will “vanish like a vision in the night.“ It is God‘s greatest delight to vanquish the enemy of the child of God. Thank you Lord, for hearing in the night this sentry’s prayer of surrender so many years ago.
FOR AMERICA: Lord, I pray that my beloved nation may surrender her heart fully to you. May she know the fires of revival & spiritual awakening from sea to shining sea. May the power of heaven’s armies be used to deliver her from the enemies that would seek to destroy her.
The day will come when the terrible swift sword of the Lord will fell the horrible evil monster of sin. Every abuse and rebellion known to man will be struck down. The wicked will know the swift and certain justice of God.
God will restore his people, those who suffered for their own rebellion against God (5:5-7). His people will produce fruit again and f Bt. V l nothing will overcome them. Salvation will come to those who turn to God for help and make peace with him.
“Now [today] is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation“ (2Co 6:2). “Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts“ (Heb 3:15). May the Lord grip the heart if America in repentance toward him. Lord, may the heart of this old sentry remain tender and repentant toward you.