Never Looked Back

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Come humbly before God, he will not ignore your prayer (Psm 66). #Don’tLookBack #RepentTurnToGod GodCannotIgnoreRepentance

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Psalm 66 is my story. I never get tired of telling it. I can shout joyful praises to God. He has done “awesome miracles” on my behalf (too many to count (vv1–4). He gave me a clear path through troubled waters. I rejoice in him (vv5–7).

My life is in his hands. He has kept my feet from stumbling. He tested me, purified me, captured me, given me a leader worth following – Jesus Christ (vv8–12). I am here paying my vows from times of trouble (13–15).

December 28, 1968, high up in a guard tower in Vietnam, I surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. “I cried out to God for help. I confessed my sin and he listened to me. He did not ignore my prayer [nor any prayer since].“ (16–20). I NEVER LOOKED BACK!

Holy Hootenanny*

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Oh that our nation, our churches, our families and neighbors might give God a reason to sing and rejoice over us (Zep 3:14-17). #HolyHootenanny #SweetSongOfSalvation

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The SONG FEST OF ISRAEL. “Sing O daughter of Zion; shout O Israel! Be glad, rejoice O daughter of Jerusalem! Cheer up, Zion! God himself is singing and rejoicing over Israel with his joyful songs of love.”

Why the SONG FEST? Because God has lifted his hand of judgment and has destroyed Israel’s enemies. He is removing all disaster, troubles and fear from Israel. He is among them again as their acknowledged Savior. His remnant (2:7,9; 3:13) of faithful ones are restored. Lord, you sing sweet songs of deliverance over your faithful ones.

Sing a Sweet, Sweet Song Of Salvation:

* A social gathering, often informal, featuring folk singing and instrumental music, sometimes dancing. It’s “Holy” when God sings over us (Zep 3:17).

Consequence Of Sin

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Never flirt with nor tolerate sin in your life (Zeph 1:10–18). #CertainDestructionOfSin #NoEscapingSin’sConsequence

Don’t Ignore Sin

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

This prophecy takes your breath away. It is swift, sweeping and severe (it took me a couple of days to absorb it). The prophet minces no words. God fully intends to punish sin and purify his people. When judgment comes, people inside the walls of Jerusalem will wail in sorrow over their destruction. No one, no sin, will be overlooked, to the darkest recesses.

Property and homes will be destroyed. Plants, vineyards, all life will be destroyed. Strong men will weep. Distress, gloom and blackness will sweep the city. It’s walls will be smashed. Blood will run in the streets and bodies will lay rotting on the ground. Life in Jerusalem will come to a terrifying end. Why? Because of sin (v17).

Lord, remove toleration of sin in my life (the life of my nation) far from me (from us). “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” – Psalms 139:23-24 NLT

A Call To Personal Surrender

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Come in full surrender to God for genuine revival (2Ki 23:26,27). #Revival #FullySurrenderToGod #Repentance

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Even though Josiah became one of Judah‘s greatest kings – he led according to God‘s ways – God was still angry with Judah for all the wickedness of Josiah‘s grandfather, Manasseh. (Certainly Josiah‘s father, Amon, did nothing to redirect Judah spiritually).

Other prophets will address Judah’s spiritual malaise during Josiah‘s reign. (2Ki 2:16-20 explains that judgment will be postponed until the end of Josiah’s reign) Even the spiritual greatness of a leader is no guarantee that the people will genuinely surrender their hearts to God.

Lord, This sentry understands that revival comes only as individuals sincerely repent and surrender fully to God (beginning with me).

Fall of a nation

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

May the nations and people of our world humbly surrender their hearts to God (Nah 2:11-13). #FallOfANation #RepentenceOfTheNations

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The great city of Nineveh, the great Assyrian empire, will be no more. She roamed about the earth fearing no one – all feared her. But she was ravenous for power and shredded without mercy everything on her way to it.

Assyria’s mighty military would be decimated by the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. She would never mercilessly plunder the nations again. Her voice will be utterly silenced for the ages.

Lord, pity the nation steeped in raw power, mercilessly and brutally overthrowing other nations. May we know the goodness of nations that are surrendered to God.

• The sentry cries out: I am no prophet. I am no judge. But nations in our world who brutalize their own people and the people of other nations will suffer mightily. Will Russia suffer the consequences of her brutal attacks on Ukraine? God will be the judge.

A Warning To The Nations

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

May God bring a halt to predatory rapacious nations today (Nah 1:1-3). #WarningToTheNations

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The scene shifts from Judah to Nineveh (capital of Assyria; It is CIRCA 620 BC). A century earlier the prophet Jonah preached judgment in the streets of Nineveh. She repented and was spared. But she has since descended into a cesspool of sin – idolatry, extreme violence, pride, murder, treachery and injustice. The prophet Nahum now announces that Assyria’s cup of judgment is full. Judgment is about to fall.

Nations today who overpower other nations, because they can, who show indifference to the destruction of life, property and human suffering will face the full fury of God’s anger. Father in these days the barbarian attack of Russia on Ukraine comes clearly into view. Woe to this godless and abominable leader, Vladimir Putin.

May the Ukrainian people know the full mercy of God. May Russia be decimated in her efforts to trample the sovereign nation of Ukraine.

“I’m Sorry” vs “I Repent”

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

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

The Depths Of God’s Love

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

May we as a people and as a nation understand the depths of God‘s love for us (2Ch 33:11-13) #TheDepthsOfGod’sLove #NothingIsImpossibleForGod

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Because of King Manasseh’s deep dive into disobedience toward God and his extreme wickedness, he was taken prisoner, enslaved by Assyria and removed from Jerusalem. While in deep distress he was broken. He humbled himself before God and prayed a prayer of deep remorse.

The Lord listened to Manasseh and was deeply moved. He brought him back to Jerusalem and restored his kingdom. Manasseh finally understood that the Lord alone is God. Perhaps, in his deep distress, he recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord’s arm is not so weak that it cannot save and his ear is not so deaf that he cannot hear” (Isa 59:1).

Thank you Lord. You heard a young soldier’s cry of deep repentance in Vietnam, 50+ years ago. This old sentry was changed forever.

Sin = Rebel Heart

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Would that God’s Spirit move on the sin ridden hearts of men today (2Ti 3:2). #WhatIsSin #SinsPayoff

Offended? Ev’thing You Need To Know About Disregard For God.

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

“In the last days.“ Not only will men scoff at God, they will be disobedient toward their parents and ungrateful. Nothing to them will be sacred. Elsewhere Paul explains that men knew God but they would not worship him as God and they were thankless, “ungrateful“ (Rom 1:21 & all of Rom 1,2).

It is today as it was in Paul’s day.

To disregard God, disregard parents and show no gratitude is to disdain any authority. It is this attitude of rebellion in man’s heart that God calls sin. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Lord in these last days would you send revival and awakening in the land. Oh, that men’s hearts would be open to you.

Cleaning Up Sin

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Clean up your own sin before holding others accountable for theirs; trust God with any hidden sin (1Ti 5:22,24,25). #JudgingOthers #ExamineYourselfFirstForSin

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The closing verses of this passage, advising Timothy on choosing church leaders and how to minister to widows, is a little awkward (including one seemingly stray personal comment on drinking wine – v23). When it comes to judging others (vv19,20), Paul says, get the facts, corroborate them and deal forthrightly with accusations without playing favorites. Paul then says, “Stay pure yourself.” (A leader living in sin is in no condition to make judgments about others).

Finally, know this, some sin is obvious, just as good works may be obvious. But not every sin of leaders may be immediately discernible. So, use much prayer and discretion, to begin with, in choosing who will lead.

Lord, may I be forthright with my own sin (Psm 139:24), then prayerfully deal with sin that is obvious in others (Mat 18:15f; Gal 6:1). Any hidden sin in others is God’s responsibility Lord (Num 32:23).

How Faith Impacts People

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Be a living example of faith in Christ (1Ti 4:12,13). #ParadigmForLife #ALifeWorthImitating

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

How does one prove his/her maturity? How does one get the respect of others…including those older than yourself? Answer: be an example of godliness. How does one do that? Answer:

• Be careful what you say. Consider carefully what comes out of your mouth.

• Be careful how you live. What you do and how you do it matters.

• Be careful how you love. Be unconditional, be willing to sacrifice for others.

• Be full of faith, expressing it at every opportunity (Faith is trusting the truthfulness of God).

• Pay attention to your purity. Confess sin quickly. Don’t allow sin to gain an upper hand in your life. Finally,

• Stay focused on reading God‘s word and sharing it with others.

Lord, fill me with your Spirit and make me an example of godly living.

Attitude Matters

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

May your heart be right with God and men as you pray (1Ti 2:8). #AttitudeMattersToPrayer #BeRightWithGodAndMen

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

How we come to God in prayer is as important to effective prayer as the prayer itself. Nothing will hinder our prayers more than praying with an unholy attitude – full of sin and self-righteousness (Psm 66:18; Mat 6:5).

Another hindrance to prayer is broken relationships with others – harboring anger, bitterness and unforgiveness towards others (Mat 5:23,24; 1Pe 3:7). Lord, may the heart of this old sentry be right with you and with others as I come to my post in prayer each day.

New Year’s Gift

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Give thanks to God for including all men in his great Redemption (1Ti 2:1,3-6). #WhosoeverWillMayCome

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

If one were the sovereign of a perfect kingdom and could choose one’s own kingdom people, who might that one choose? Would one choose only people like one’s self? One might be highly selective. But God is not like that. He includes everyone of us (even a wretch like me). He excludes no one in his call to come. In fact, he tells us to pray for “ALL“ men to understand this truth and enter into his kingdom (Romans 10:13 says, “Whosoever will may come”).

One may say, “Well, I don’t like God. He condemns my sin, says I will suffer consequences for my sin.“ Yes, but he is also our mediator and he has reconciled all humanity to him by Christ’s death on the cross. He suffered our consequences and purchased our freedom to choose him and his kingdom. All may come to him. We may exclude ourselves, but he excludes no one. This is the message, GOD’S GIFT to the world (Rom 6:23). Thank you Lord, for including me (not excluding me) in your kingdom.

No Place To Hide

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Comprehend God’s animus towards sin, but love for the sinner (Isa 66:18,19a). #GodHatesSinButLovesTheSinner #GodWillJudgeSin #RepentReturnToGod

Grace Flows Where Sin Abounds

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Isaiah makes it clear that, though God’s enemies (disobedient ones) go hiding to commit their sacrilege in private places (17), he sees their sin. He knows clearly who they are, where they are and what they are doing (men love [their private] darkness rather than light for their deeds are evil (see John 3:16-21). Nothing escapes God’s knowledge (Luk 12:2; Heb 4:13).

Isaiah also alludes to a future time (not clear when) that God will hold to account and destroy all his enemies. Every nation will be brought together to see collectively this manifestation of God’s glory and the absolute deliverance of those devoted to him. Lord, you have known my every weakness, sin and failure. Yet, by grace, you loved this old sentry and accepted him in Christ the beloved (Eph 1:6).

Genuine Worship

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

May your worship of God be sincere, humble and contrite (Isa 66:1,2). #TrueWorship #WorthyWorship #UndefiledWorship

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

I gather from my readings that this final chapter of Isaiah begins by addressing another form of “idolatry“ on the part of Israel. Seventy years of captivity in Babylon may have cured them of their worship of foreign gods. But following captivity they would fall to exceeding pride in their temple worship of God.

Israel would begin to substitute sincere and humble worship for elaborate forms of ritual, a system of rules keeping and outward pompous displays of devotion. In other words, they acted religious but their hearts were filled with pride over their religious activity and works (2Ti 3:5). Lord, I understand that it is only a sincere and contrite heart that you receive as worthy worship. Christianity is not doing things a certain way. It is a certain way of doing ev’thing..

Good To Be Home

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Return quickly to the open arms of the loving Father of Heaven (Isa 64:8,9). #OpenArms #UnconditionalLove

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Like the Prodigal of Luke 15, after years of captivity in Babylon (prophetically speaking) the child, the wayward nation of Israel, turns to the true source of comfort and security – Jehovah God. Like the repentant Prodigal, Israel will come acknowledging God‘s sovereign hand in their affairs. They will seek the Father‘s forgiveness.

Israel will ask God to not turn away any longer. They will ask that God see them again with the eyes of a loving father, which, of course, he is, always has been and will be (See also 63:15,16). Father, I remember well that night in 1968, on my lonely dusty road back to you. You welcomed me home with unconditional love. I owe all to you.

No Condemnation

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Understand God’s Word as Good News not bad news (Isa 64:5-7). #GreatestLoveStoryEverTold #GodLovesYou

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Isaiah 64:1-5a extols God‘s goodness and awesome deeds. Then in verses 5b–7 we hear that God is angry with us – what horrible sinners we all are. Yet, surprisingly, “No one calls upon God for help or mercy. So God simply allows our sin to run its course in our lives.“

Why is it that we only hear the bad news, “God is angry,“ and fail to hear the Good News, “God is full of mercy?“ The country song troubadour sings, “I just want to read Bible verses and not the Bible versus me.“

The mournful troubadour only hears the Law and knows he can’t measure up. But he keeps trying. He does not hear and know how God loves him and died for his sin. It is not the Bible vs. Me. It is Sin vs. Me (Titus 3:11). “God did not come to condemn the world but to save it (Jhn 3:16,17).

Yes, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). “But,” Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Father, I want the world to see your love, mercy and grace through me. There is hope for the country troubadour.

See also on this blog “Don’t Give Me No Country Song Jesus.

God Sighting

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Never lose sight of God in your life (Isa 63:15-19). #VisionOfGod #GodInOurSights

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Our sin and rebellion toward God comes at a price. To grieve his Holy Spirit (v10) comes at a price. God‘s presence in our lives is withdrawn, having the effect on the wandering soul as to feeling cut off from God. God allows us, in his providence, to drift off the chosen path (v17).

We become blind to God‘s goodness. We wonder how we could ever have even belonged to him or been known by him. But many there are (I am one) who break through the darkness, remember the God of our youth (v16) and cry out to him for deliverance (v17). Thank you Lord, you never lost sight of me though I, for a season, lost sight of you.

Remembering The God Who Remembers

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Let your anguished heart cry out to God for his love and mercy (Isa 63:10–14). #CallToRemrmbrance #RepentanceTowardGod

Rembrandt’s Prodigal

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

When we have so grieved the Holy Spirit of God, he will at once abandon us to the consequences of that sin and rebellion. But God is never far away from us (though we may drift a long ways away from him – note Psalm 139:7–12). God will always remember his promises to his people (Isa 63:11 above).

But we too will be brought to our senses as we remember his goodness to us (note the prodigal of Luke 15). This remembrance reveals the heart that is moving to repentance. The wanderer humbly cries out to God in anguish of soul for the Redeemer-Shepherd to once again lead by and fill with his Holy Spirit. Lord, this is the new man in me crying out to you for your love and mercy. God WILL respond.

No Foolin’

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Remain dedicated always to God (Isa 63:7–10). #HandInTheCookieJar #SinWillFindYouOut #CantFoolGod

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

God’s people – so prone to wander, rebel and commit grievous acts against his Holy Spirit. Israel did this, in spite of God‘s great love and mercy. The church in America and elsewhere, has done the same. I myself have wandered, rebelled and committed grievous things against the Spirit of God. In my best moments I am capable of sin against God.

God has no choice but to become an adversary to Israel, the church, to me. God’s people often act like foolish children. They think they can snatch a cookie and God won’t notice (NOT!). Hence, God‘s hand of discipline will come against the erring child. His purpose? In love, to correct and instruct. Lord, thank you that you never give up on this old sentry. You won’t give up on America either.

His Riches For My Rags

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Rely fully on Christ to replace your sin & shame with his righteousness (Isa 61:7) #GarmentsOfPraise #GreatExchange #RagsToRiches https://bible.com/bible/1588/isa.61.7.AMP

The Great Exchange: A Garment of Righteousness For My Shame

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Isaiah 61:7 summarizes verses 3–6. It expresses a marvelous exchange of joy for shame and dishonor, a double portion of joy at that. In context the nation of Israel will be delivered from Babylonian captivity and find herself immeasurably blessed among the nations.

But the prophetic future here describes a spiritual Israel, life in the kingdom of God. The Messiah, Jesus Christ (described in vv 1,2; see Luk 4:18-22) will deliver beauty for ashes, blessing for mourning and praise for despair. Lives will be rebuilt, remade, in the righteousness of Christ (note 2Co 5:21).

Lord, thank you for the precious treasure of Christ’s righteousness given the duty sentries, in exchange for our sin and shame.

Rise n’ Shine!

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Look for the light of Christ to shine into your darkness (Isa 60:1–6). #RiseNShine #Reveille #TheGloryOfTheLord https://bible.com/bible/1588/isa.60.1-3.AMP

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Comes a righteous king (Isa 59:16b – 20) to set men right with God. “Rise n’ Shine,“ Oh Jerusalem, the glory of the Lord appears over you. In the midst of heavy darkness the light of the world will shine upon you. Nations will come to your light. The people of Zion will return to you. Your wealth will be renowned.

Isaiah looks over the horizon of time to an age when men will come to the light. Jesus our redeemer, our Messiah, came into a world of darkness. He is the light of men (Jhn 8:12; 2Co 4:6). He will come again as conquering king. “Thus saith the Lord,” through Isaiah. Lord, you have shined your light into my darkness; may your light be reflected through me to others in darkness.

On this Veterans Day I can say that quiet literally the Lord Jesus shined into my darkness. It was December 28, 1968, between 2:00 & 3:00 AM. I was on watch in a guard tower in Vietnam. Jesus broke into my darkness and nothing has been the same since.

Perilous Predicament

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Accept ownership of your sin, it’s consequence and repent (Isa 59:1,12–15) https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.59.1-15.NLT #GodToTheRescue #Repentance

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Isaiah reminds Judah that God had not left them. They had left God. Their sin (subsequently, my sin) has piled up on them (vv2–8) and testifies against them. Their destruction is eminent (Babylonian captivity). So, before there can be confession, cleansing, forgiveness and redemption there must be a recognition of sin and acceptance of responsibility for it.

Like Judah, I must own my sin before God, accept my lostness (recognize my perilous predicament) before I can reach out to the one (Jesus) who has come to rescue me, to pull me to safety. This is repentance: recognizing that I am a sinner bound for eternal destruction and accept salvation from God.

Lord, your word exposes my sinful and rebellious heart. I have seen my sin for what it is before you. I repent and receive your cleansing, forgiveness and redemption (Jhn 3:16; 1Jn 1:9).

Phony Religion

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

May we have a heart of repentance towards God (Isa 58:1-3). #PhonyReligion #UnholyAlliances #Unfaithfulness #RepentTowardsGod https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.58.1-3.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Finding God’s Presence

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Oh that we might dwell before God in humility and sincerity (Isaiah 56:6,7; 57:13). #HolyMountain #HolyCity #PlaceWhereGodDwells #PlaceOfPerpetualPrayer https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.56.6-7.NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.57.13.NLT

Mt Siniai

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

What is God’s “Holy Mountain“ and how does one enter into that mountain? The “Holy Mountain“ of God is literally Mt Siniai (Mt Zion). It is the place where God spoke to Moses. Spiritually it is the heavenly Jerusalem, the place where the living God dwells. It represents the presence of God.

Who can enter into that holy place (Psm 15:1–5; 24:3)? the answer is, those who set themselves apart for God, who trust in God, who worship God with genuine sincerity and a contrite heart. What will one find in God’s “Holy Mountain”? The answer is, the presence of God, joy and the perpetual listening ear of God, who will hear and answer prayer. Oh, my Lord, may this old sentry be found worthy to daily enter into your “Holy Mountain.“