Influence

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Learn that godly influence begins with listening to and obeying God (Isaiah 55:3–5). #Influence #BeingTheBestFORTheWorld https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.55.3-5.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Men may think that they must have fame, wealth and power to have influence. At times men may feel they deserve to be heard. That is pride and arrogance speaking. But when one comes to God, listens to God and follows God‘s counsel, that one, whether great or small, from humble beginnings or advantaged beginnings, may have great and godly influence.

Why is this so? Because God is the one who exalts the individual, in his way, in his time (1Pe 5:6). He does so in meager surroundings and in sufficient to substantial surroundings. For God, it is not about being the best IN the world. It is about being the best FOR the world. I must examine first the one standing in the one square foot of space I occupy.

Lord, you have allowed this old sentry opportunity for godly influence; first in my family, then in my circle of friends and associates; in my realms of life. I could ask for nothing more.

Coming Out

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Follow God out of the unholy places in your life (Isa 52:11,12). #PurifyYourHeart #LeaveWhatIsUnholy #RepentOfAllThatIsUnholy https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.52.11-12.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

… And so the Lord calls upon Israel to “get up and get out” of Babylon, her captors of 70 yrs. She is set free by her deliverer, Cyrus of Persia (a type of Christ). Israel is commanded also to take time to purify herself. She is to prepare to remove the sacred things of worship from Babylon, taken as booty by this blasphemous brood (2Ch 36:18).

God himself will lead Israel out of Babylon like a general leading his troops. He will be their rear guard as well. Just so, every believer is commanded to “COME OUT“ of a world of sin and shameful things and be separate from all that is unholy (2Co 6:16-18; Rev 18:4). Thank you Lord, for leading this old sentry out of the unholy places in my life; for always being my rear guard as well.

FEARLESS; FAITHFUL; FORTIFIED

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION:

Fear nothing; follow God faithfully (Isa 51:1–8). #FearGodAlone #FollowFaithfully https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.51.7-8.NLT

The Lord Shields The Faithful

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

What an assuring word is here given to all the faithful remnant – God shields those who trust in him no matter what men may think (vv7,8). GOD SAYS:

1) Remember where you came from – the story of a humble faithful beginning; becoming a strong nation (v2,3).

2) Know that your faithfulness is not lost on a pagan oppressor or a wayward nation – you will know my comfort, my fortification (v3).

3) Continue to hope in God alone. Hope is in his law, his justice, his mercy, his salvation and his mighty powerful strong arm (vv4–6).

4) Do not fear, I am with you (vv7,8).

Lord you stand with the faithful. You are a SHIELD against the oppressor.

Trust For Life

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION:

Be confident in the source, strength and certainty of God’s call (Isa 49:1-7). #CalledToLove #Called ToServe https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.49.5-7.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Jesus, my redeemer–friend, wonders in his humanity at the outcome of his earthly work and ministry, as perhaps ineffective. (He also stopped and prayed three times over the certainty of God’s plan in the garden before his crucifixion – Mat 26:36-47.) He has no hesitation in trusting his life’s work into the hands of Jehovah God (v4). Isaiah 49:5-7 explains why.

Our Redeemer is confident in the source, strength and certainty of his life call and work (v5).

He is assured that nothing he did on earth will be lost. It will ultimately be used to point ALL men to God (v6).

Finally, he is assured that “rejection,“ or apparent failure, is not the measure of success in God’s eyes. God is faithful (v7 & 25:1).

Lord, I can learn lessons from Jesus in trusting you completely with the outcomes of the work to which you call me.

“Whatever!” Consequences

PRAYER: Listen and obey God‘s word (Isa 48:1-6,18,19) #YesLord or #Whatever #Hooah https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.48.1-6.NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.48.18-19.NLT

HEARD, UNDERSTOOD, ACKNOWLEDGED

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Isaiah chapter 48 could be summarized, “You did not listen.“ A theme that is repeated often in God’s word is “listen” to what God is saying. That is not the same thing as hearing. I may hear my father speak, but not “listen.” To listen implies understanding, acknowledging and obeying. If you hear an authority figure give an instruction and you say, “Whatever!“, then you’re not “listening.”

Israel’s problem was she was not “listening” to God; she was like, “Whatever!” The result was devastating – 430 years in Egyptian captivity, 70 years in Babylonian captivity. Had Israel listened and obeyed, verses 18,19 say much grief would have been avoided. Father God, give this sentry a heart to listen and the determination to carry out your instructions. Yes Lord! “Hooah!” *

* According to Stars & Stripes (military news paper) – “HOOAH” (or “huah”) is unique to the Army [“OORAH” – Marines]. Some say it stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.” It is shouted by a troop following an order given. It expresses determination to act as ordered. It expresses the Army spirit. (See also Jan 8, 2021 post, “HOOAH!”, this blog)

Victory, Defeat; God’s Role

PRAYER: Understand the providence of God in your every pursuit (Isa 45:7). #TheProvidenceOfGod https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.45.7.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

“I [God] create good times and bad times.” Am I to understand here that God is the author of evil in the moral sense of sin? No! No! No! This statement is made in relation to the providences of God. He raises up prosperity, peace, pure religion and the like. He also calls forth adversity, calamity, ignorance, et all…but not evil, in the moral sense of sin. He gives us light. Darkness ensues because the light is withdrawn.*

When God withdraws his hand, bad things happen. But when God puts his hand of blessing on something (as here with Cyrus) good things happen. God’s point here is his complete and absolute superiority over all the things in heaven and on earth. He providentially works in the affairs of men. This is as true today as it was in the days of Cyrus.*

America may not want to hear this, but God says, “[I am he who] builds up nations, and [I am he who] destroys them. [I am he who] expands nations, and [I am he who] abandons them” (Job 12:23 NLT – see vv 13-24 for context https://bible.com/bible/116/job.12.13-24.NLT).

Lord put it into the heart of every prayer sentry to seek truth and learn from you in the good times and in the bad times. May every sentry standing on the wall speak with conviction and with compassion. May your Spirit not be withdrawn from our midst.

* See Barnes’ Notes on Isaiah (pg 149,150)

Is America The Subject Of God’s Fury?

PRAYER: Listen to God and do what is right in his sight (Isa 43:18–25). #Judgment #GreatAmericanFailure #TurnToGod https://bible.com/bible/97/isa.42.18-25.MSG

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

America – can we not see with our own eyes and hear with her own ears what is right? How long shall we refuse righteousness and ignore what is right before our own eyes and ears?

If God did not withhold judgment on his own people, Israel, how will he not withhold judgment on the nations that reject and ignore him? America has turned her back on God. She, like Israel of old, is the target of God’s fury…yet she refuses to understand. She refuses to learn her lessons.

Consider just the past 18 months: COVID pandemic, “George Floyd “– riots, grotesque racial division among us, out of control forest fires, inflation that threatens our economy, earthquakes claiming thousands of lives, inept national leadership foisted upon us and the demise of our national/international honor, pride and global influence.

Father, open the eyes of this great nation to your love, mercy and forgiveness. May she repent while there is still time and turn back to you. Begin by breaking the heart of this old sentry, Lord!

Case Closed!

PRAYER: Render your heart abandoned to God (Isa 41:1-29). #AbandonedToGod https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.41.4-29.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

As Judah flaunts her foreign gods and idolatrous practices, the God of all providence challenges. The God of Israel predicts their future in a conquering king from the east who would defeat their captors, Babylon (promise no. 1) he would then release God‘s people from their captivity (promise no. 2). God will redeem his people. They will be strong and victorious again.

Fountains and rivers will spring up and flow in the desert (vv17-20). It is predicted. It is miraculous. What idol, made by man, can do this? But God, the Holy One of Israel, does this to prove his worthiness (vv26-29). God has made his case. There is no rebuttal (v26). There is no God like Jehovah-God. Lord, render my heart wholly abandoned to you.

Help Is On The Way

Prayer: Be a voice for God in your world today (Isa 4:9). #HelpIsOnTheWay #PreachingRedemption https://isaiah.bible/isaiah-40-11

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

I can feel the joy and exuberance, as Isaiah writes what he sees and hears. He must have been filled to overflowing with great anticipation as to what God was about to do…deliver his people from their trouble (note vv 1,2 again). No doubt, Isaiah could hardly wait to herald the good news announcement to Jerusalem from the mountain tops, “Help is on the way!” “Your God is coming!”

How good to know that help is coming your way to deliver you from your life extremity. The Lord shall deliver his people, all those who love him. He did then, he will today and he will in the future. Lord, it is for me a joy to deliver God’s message of mercy and redemption in these days. May I be an effective voice for you.

Promise Made; Promise Kept

Prayer: Put your complete trust in God‘s word (Isa 40:6-8). #PromiseKeeper https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.40.6-8.NLT

Who Do You Trust?

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

How quickly public opinion changes. But God‘s word never changes. Men make promises and do not keep them. But God‘s word is true and he keeps his promises. Men are like grass that withers and flowers that fade when the heat and drought comes. But the word of the Lord stands forever.

God keeps his promises to deliver this ancient people. He kept his word to send a deliverer in Christ Jesus. He came to deliver men from the curse of sin. He will keep us until the day of our salvation. God’s word will never fail. Oh Lord, you are faithful even when we are not faithful. You are utterly reliable.

A Story Of Contentment

Prayer: Be filled with the joy and contentment of the Lord (Phi 4:11-13). #KnowJoyKnowContentment https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.11-13.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

“I have learned how to be content…“ This is a parenthetic statement given in the midst of a gratuitous statement of deeply felt thanks to the Philippian church for their financial provision to Paul. Paul’s joy (expressed so often and so well in this letter) informed his sense of contentment.

Joy is detached from circumstances. It comes from a deep and abiding relationship with Christ. So contentment is detached from other inner desires for more and for abundance. It comes from the One who alone gives us strength and courage every day. Therein lies the secret of joy and contentment. Fully rely on God for EVERY need. Lord, fill me with your joy and contentment today.

I learned this lesson long ago from, Beggar At The Banquet, the story of Hong, Woo Joon. He, his parents, brothers and sisters were severely and unspeakably persecuted Korean Christians as communism took over Korea in the 1920s-40s. Hong’s story is told by Donald B Sheley.

The book opens with this quote from Hong. “Life is like a banquet in a strange land. Great expectation preceeds some of the [banquet] dishes while caution hinders the complete enjoyment of others. As the guest, one is expected to taste and experience each course. Some of the courses are delightful, and others are not, but all are given by a concerned host [the Lord] and must be received and appreciated. That is my philosophy of life, a philosophy which I have been practicing at life’s banquet for 52 years. Some of the courses have been wonderful, others have been bitter.”

Walk In Faith

Prayer: Hold fast to faith and joy in Christ (Phi 4:4-5) #FaithWalk https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.4-5.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

I always want to hear what the Holy has to say to me directly. But this morning the New Living Translation Bible study notes ring the bell: “Ultimate joy comes from Christ dwelling within us. Christ’s coming is near, and when he comes we will fully realize his ultimate joy.“

In the meantime, “We are to be considerate (reasonable, fair minded and charitable) to those outside the church as well as those inside. This means we are not to seek revenge against those who treat us unfairly, nor are we to be overly vocal about our personal rights. [Christ] who lives within us will fulfill his final purposes for us“ (NLT study notes).

The years teach much which the days never know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Lord, may the faithful sentry be always mindful to walk by faith and not by sight (2Co 5:7).

The Joyful Place

Prayer: Cling to “JOY in the Lord” in turbulent times, in all times (Phi 4:4; Neh 8:10). #Joy #RejoiceInTheLord https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.4.nlt

Joy In The Storm

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Having noted several divisions and disagreements in the church at Philippi, Paul moves to some more practical instruction. “Joy“ being a major focus of this letter, Paul begins there. “Always be full of joy in the Lord; again – rejoice!”

“Joy” is not happiness with no gloom. It is the victory of faith, the confident assurance of the soul secure in Christ Jesus. It is often related to and/or out of times of affliction.

Joy “In the Lord“ – God himself is the ground and object of the believer’s joy (Neh 8:10). This joy is like a storm cellar in the midst of a storm; safe, secure, from the tempest outside. Lord, be my joy, my source of strength in turbulent times; at all times.

Heaven’s Reflection

Prayer: Reflect Heaven’s values in your life (Phi 3:20,21). #ReflectKingdomLife https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.20-21.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Standing in apposition to those who have corrupted the Gospel are those whose lives clearly represent the kingdom of Heaven. They are ambassadors of Christ Jesus in this world. This is a temporary home and soon the savior from Heaven’s Kingdom, Jesus, will call us home.

Our mortal bodies will put on a immortality like that of Christ. He will, by his power, bring all things under his control and we shall be like him in our resurrected bodies. Lord, while I am in this world may my life be a true reflection of your Kingdom.

Be The Code

Prayer: Look to God‘s word (our “Code”) and to living examples of God’s word (Phi 3:17). #TheCode #TheLivingWordOfGod https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.17.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Hold Nothing Back

Prayer: Strive for the prize of knowing Christ (Phi 3:12-16). #HoldNothingBack #StriveForThePrize https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.13-14.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul reflects momentarily on his past. But he does not dwell there. He mentions some things for which he was ashamed. Are we not all dogged by shameful things? But Paul‘s point of view is that the past ought not haunt us today and paralyze our movement forward in Christ.

Paul strives for maturity. He labors now, not for salvation, but for knowing Christ more fully. Like a track athlete, he disciplines himself and pushes himself toward the crown of victory to which Christ has called him. Lord, this old sentry is encouraged by Paul to let go of my past failures and hold nothing back from fully knowing and serving Christ.

The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful

Prayer: Look to God for faithful men and women to fortify your life (Phi 2:21,22,25-27,29,30). #MoreThanAFewGoodMen #ICHTHUS #SignOfTheFish https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.22-23,25-27,29-30.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul mentions two men here, Timothy and Ephroditus. Timothy has been a selfless and faithful co-laborer. Paul looks on him as a son. Epaphroditus is also a faithful co-worker, compassionate and honorable “fellow soldier.” He risked his life for the work of Christ. “A Few Good Men?” Yes, but more. They are “The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful.”

God has blessed me with some great companions in ministry, both men and women. I am so very thankful for the incredible contributions they have made in me personally. I can only hope to be a fraction of what they have been to me. They are, “The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful.” Iχθύς (ichthus)*

_________________

*Ichthys or ichthus, from the Greek ikhthū́s (ἰχθύς, 1st cent. AD Koine Greek pronunciation: [ixˈθys], “fish“) is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish. The symbol was adopted by early Christians as a secret symbol. It is now known colloquially as the “sign of the fish.” The Greek letters are the initials of the words I ēsous C hristos th eou hy ios s ōtēr meaning, Jesus Christ Son of God Savior.

Brighten Your Corner*

Prayer: Allow your light to shine brightly for Christ (Phi 2:12-19). #LightUpLife #BrightenYourCorner https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.12-18.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul pleads with his dear friends in Philippi to “live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.“ He could easily have been speaking to Christians in the 21st-century (2021).

Christians today ought to hold firm to the word of life and live clean innocent lives. We ought to pour out our lives in faithful service to God. Then we may rejoice to you know that out light shown brightly all the way to the end. Father, I pray that my light will shine brightly for Christ in all that I do.

__________________

*This simple song, written many years ago, challenges Christians to Brighten The Corner Where You Are!

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,

Do not wait to shed your light afar;

To the many duties ever near you now be true,

Brighten the corner where you are.

[Refrain]

Brighten the corner where you are!

Brighten the corner where you are!

Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;

Brighten the corner where you are!

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,

Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;

Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,

Brighten the corner where you are.

[Refrain]

The Path Toward Awakening

Prayer: Choose to put other’s rights ahead of your own (Phi 2:5–8). #ServantHeart https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.5-8.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Jesus Christ is the supreme example of humility. He was the Son of God. He did not surrender his deity to become a man…He set aside his rights as deity. He willingly put the needs of humanity for salvation ahead of his own rights as deity. Paul says we ought to have this same attitude towards others.

To set aside our rights in favor of another’s is not looking down on ourselves as somehow inferior. It is to simply put others first, out of genuine love for them and NOT demand our rights first. It is a choice we make. [What would America look like if everyone did that?] Father, may I honor you in my choices to serve others.

A Hand Up

Prayer: Seek to encourage others as Christ has encouraged you (Phi 1:30–2:2). #TogetherWeStand #OneInChrist https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.30.nlt https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.1-2.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Dealing with life, especially in extraordinarily difficult times, is always more tolerable when someone else you know is struggling just as you. Paul relates well to those facing challenging, even perilous times; just as Jesus did. What could be better than to know that every follower of Christ is standing with each other, loving each other and working toward the common goal of making the Gospel known?

Paul is encouraged by his relationship with Christ. So too can any believer be encouraged. Paul was comforted by Christ’s love, the intimacies of Christ’s Spirit and the tender compassion of Christ’s heart that reaches out to those in need. So too, can any believer. Lord, there is never a need for encouragement that you cannot fill as I walk daily according to your Spirit.

Leading

Prayer: Lead with compassion, confidence and consideration of others (Phi 2:2). #LeadingWell https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.2.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Not much will make the heart of the leader know more true satisfaction than for co-laborers in Christ to be “wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”

The leader who can realize that, has found a path for personal engagement in the lives of others that most never seem to have time for. It’s not the easiest or most direct route, but it is the most satisfying. Lord, may I be a leader like that in my family, my church and my community.

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.

Deep State Faith

Prayer: May your faith serve to glorify Christ in your living or in your dying (Phi 1:23-26) #DeepStateFaith https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.23-26.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Seated here in my quiet place, in the early morning watch, it is difficult for me to grasp the conflict in Paul’s spirit. Words and emotions escape me. I am challenged even to write. The brokenness of Paul’s thought patterns serve only to express his inward desire to glorify Christ, whether he lives or whether he dies. Such a deep state of faith I can only imagine.

Paul is in prison and will be on trial for his life. His thoughts move from his imminent martyrdom to emotions expressing great exultation (it cannot be exaggerated) and rejoicing that he will be released. That he will see these beloved believers again is not assumed but expected. When they see him they will be doubly encouraged in their growth and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord, may the state of my faith be deep enough to glorify you whether in life or death.

If I Live, If I Die

Prayer: Seek to exalt Christ in life or in death (Phi 1:19–22). #ToLiveIsChristToDieIsGain https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.19-22.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul Clarifies what he expects as his deliverance, his vindication, as a result of prayers and God’s guidance (may be quoting Job 13:18). Paul’s earnest, eager, expectation* and hope (ignoring all other interests, straining to see beyond his circumstance) is not so much his release but that he unashamedly continues to exalt Christ.

Prayer is not about getting my own way. It’s about getting God’s way, worked out in life. For Paul, God’s will is accomplished whether he lives or whether he dies. Even Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but thy will be done“ (Mat 6:10; Luke 2:42). To live is Christ, to die is gain. One is as good as the other. Lord, may I not be so preoccupied with my circumstances that I preclude the glory of Christ.

_________________

* Martin, Ralph P., Philippians, Tyndale NT Comentary (1959), suggests this may have been a word coined by Paul himself.

Biden v. Putin

Prayer: Fear not dear people of America. No oppressor shall have power over you that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies does not allow (2 Kings 6:16-18). #BidenVsPutin

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

It matters not the weakness or strength of the leader of the free world; if God is for his remnant in America (or any other country), who shall stand against her? Do not be afraid of the enemy from Russia (or any where else). For greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1Jhn 4:4).

Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if the remnant of God in America shall be victorious open the eyes of President Vladimir Putin when he meets with President Joe Biden today, June 16, 2021.

No matter the state of President Biden’s mind, feeble or strong, when they meet, may Putin see what the servant of the Man of God saw as he coward in the face of the Aramean military might. [He saw that the Hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire – 2 Kings 6:16-18]. May Putin see that those who are with us are more and more than those who are with our him.

May the entire camp of Vladimir Putin be thrown into confusion as in the days of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies caused three super powers of the day to turn on and destroy each other (2 Chronicles 20:20-24). So the Lord is able to do today.

World leaders and world super powers come and go. But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will stand forever. May the Lord stand in the gap today as Joe Biden meets with Vladimir Putin. The Lord will stand with truth, justice and righteousness on the world stage. May the world be convinced today of the power of the Lord God.