Nothing To Say

Learn the secret of rest & solitude with God (Isa 28:12–15). #Solitude #Quiet #WellShutMyMouth https://bible.com/116/isa.28.12-15.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Here the Lord when he says, “Be quiet and rest, silent and still, listen and reflect.“ But his people would not. Elsewhere it says, “[God] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on him” (Isa 26:3). “Ask for the ancient way and walk in it. Travel that path and find rest for your soul. But his people would not” (Jer 6:16). “Come to me and I will give you rest“ (Mat 11:28). But God‘s people, we, who always have something to say, fill the silence, his quiet rest, with our own babbling.

Someone once said, “Blessed are those who have nothing to say and cannot be persuaded to say it.“*

God’s people disregarded God’s Word as trivial, nonessential and elementary. They boasted the great plans made of men. They, so liberated and free, will find God‘s Word to be the stone upon which they will stumble, fall and be broken in pieces. It will be the snare that traps them. Oh Lord, like Job, I have nothing to say. I have everything to gain by closing my mouth and waiting on you to speak (Job 42:1-6).

*Dobie, J. Frank, Cow People, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, (1964, 1984 – pg. 85)

“BORrrING” – NOT!

Don’t ignore the simple truths of God (Isa 28:9–11). #BeOpenToGod https://www.bible.com/116/isa.28.9-11.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

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.

No Greater Love

Respond to God freely for his great gift of redemption (2Ki 17:38,39). #GraceAndMercy #GodsLove #GodsPlanOfRedemption https://www.bible.com/116/2ki.17.38-39.nlt

God’s symbolic covenant of redemption with Abraham (Gen 15:9-11,17,18)

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The land taken captive by Assyria was God’s land, the land of Israel, the land of promise to God’s people, his “covenant” people. Genesis Chapters 12-15 tells the story of Abraham‘s covenant encounter with God. God chose Abraham through whom to deliver his messianic redemption. God chose Abraham, not because Abraham was so special. God chose him because he needed an instrument through which to reveal his grace.

The covenant spoken of here is a reminder of God‘s unilateral, unconditional love and grace. This covenant bound God alone to his plan of redemption. Men could never nullify God‘s plan of redemption by their lack of commitment. God seeks for men and women to come to him of their own free will and worship him. Lord, I come freely to offer you my love and devotion, imperfect as it is. I give you thanks for the blood you spilled at Calvary for my sin.

Don’t Give Me No Country Song Jesus

Devote your life to the one true God (2Ki 17:29,32,33,40,41). #WorshipJehovahGodAlone #NoCountrySongJesus https://www.bible.com/116/2ki.17.29,32-33,40-41.nlt

MORNING WAYCH NOTES:

The nation of Israel had fallen to Assyria. A captive priest of Jehovah God was sent to teach the new settlers how to worship God in the land. But they did not worship Jehovah God alone. They continued to worship their own gods as well. Israel had done the same and left many pagan shrines in the land that the new settlers used to worship their pagan deities. Makes me wonder about the heart of the priest who was sent to teach them of Jehovah God.

Today I am mindful of the Country & Western music I hear. Country & Western singers have no problem mixing Jesus, barstools and neon lights, like they all just go together. Get drunk on Saturday night, repent on Sunday morning. To call the name of Jesus is not the same as believing in Jesus (Mat 7:22). Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of true Jesus followers in country music. But Lord, this ol’ sentry don’t want no “country song Jesus” to command his life. Give me the real McCoy.

Respect The “King”

Honor the God of your provision, your possessions (2Ki 17:22–26). #GiveGodGlory #GiveGodThanks https://www.bible.com/116/2ki.17.22-26.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Because of the nation of Israel‘s persistence in worshiping other gods, following the way of pagan nations and stubbornly refusing to listen to God‘s warnings of disaster, God “swept them away from his presence” (vv18,22). Assyria resettled the people of Israel by removing them from their land as captives. The Assyrians then re-populated the land of Israel by moving their own godless people into that territory.

But because these pagans did not worship the God of this land, the Lord [Lion of Judah] sent lions among them. Many were killed. The message was, they gained the land of God by his hand, they will live in the land of God by his hand. The desecration of what belongs to God will be met with disastrous consequences. Our provision and possessions gained by God’s hand are a sacred trust to respect. Father, I give you thanks and glory for all I have from your hand.

ANOTHER WORD: I just met a young warrior, Wesley, who will enter the United States Navy in about 6 weeks. I will be standing watch for him, his safety and the careful maintenance of his relationship with God. Bless you bro.

“Extra! Extra! ‘Tell’ All About It.”

Be ready to boldly share the Gospel with those who will listen (Acts 28:28-31). #ShareJesusNow #UnashamedWitnessForChrist https://www.bible.com/1588/act.28.28-31.amp

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

When Paul’s Jewish countrymen refused to accept the Gospel he was compelled by God to move on to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15;Rom 1:16; 11:13,14; Gal 1:15, 16). The Jewish leaders left Paul’s company greatly disturbed by his words. The Gentiles were far more receptive to the Gospel. They were far less infected by religious formalism.

For the two years Paul stayed in Rome under house arrest (presumably awaiting trial). He welcomed all who came to him. He boldly proclaimed to them the Kingdom of God. He taught and explained to them about Jesus, the Messiah, who came to offer forgiveness and salvation to the world. “No one tried to stop him.” Lord, lead me daily to those who are open to the Gospel. Give me boldness to proclaim the “Good News.”

“None So Blind Nor Deaf”

Never be discouraged nor dissuaded from sharing the “Good News“ (Acts 28:25–27). #ShareYourFaith #ShareJesusNow https://www.bible.com/116/act.28.25-27.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The Scriptures predicted the response of the Jewish community to the Gospel (“Hearts would be hard, ears would be deaf, and eyes would be closed” – Isaiah 6:9-10). A late friend of mine, mentor and elder in the faith had a saying, “There are none so blind as those who won’t see and none so deaf as those who won’t hear.”

I can’t imagine the sorrow in Paul’s heart for his own disbelieving countrymen. After teaching and pleading with them over the Gospel from morning through evening, only a few listened. Many refused to listen and receive. Paul’s example to me is that it is not about how successful I am that moves me to share the “Good News.” It is about my obedience to share it. Lord, may I never stop pleading and praying the Gospel over my friends, neighbors, community and the world.

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.

Feel Hindered? No Problem!

Do not view whatever shackles you as a hindrance to God (Acts 28:11–16). #SailOn #TrustGod #NoHindranceTooGreat https://www.bible.com/116/act.28.11-16.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Following a ship wreck and three months delay, Paul and Luke, along with fellow prisoners, travelers and soldiers, left the welcoming island upon which they were stranded. Fairwinds delivered them to Sicily. Then up the coast of Italy to Puteoli. There they stayed a week, hosted by believers of “The Way.” Later, other believers met Paul in route to Rome – Paul was encouraged by them. When he arrived in Rome he was allowed his own private lodging – though guarded by a soldier. One would hardly guess that Paul was a prisoner, save the guard assigned to him.

Paul – falsely accused, incarcerated, shipwrecked and snake bit – so what hinders me? Whatever shackles appear to bind me will never impede the forward progress of God’s work. My circumstances do not dictate the forward movement of God. I can trust God to lead me on his mission for my life. Lord, I trust you to overcome the shackles, any hindrances in my life, to the progress of the gospel, the ministry of the word and the encouragement of others.

To Follow And To Serve

Yield your life to faithfully follow and serve God (Acts 28:7-11a). #Surender #FaithfullyServeGod https://www.bible.com/116/act.28.7-11.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Upon the island, near where Paul was ship wrecked, lived a man named Publius. He was a chief official of the island. He hosted Paul and the others in his villa – another gracious provision of God.

Publius’ father was sick with dysentery. Paul was used by God to heal him. The result was that many on the island came to Paul and we’re healed. Paul ministered healing by God’s power to these islanders for three months. They showered Paul and Luke with much love and affection.

God chose Paul and called him to be his voice to the ancient world. Paul was a man surrendered to God. Another such man is Billy Graham of the 20th century. God could reveal himself in these men in powerful ways. Here, because of Paul’s surrendered life, I see yet another display of God‘s presence, provision and power.

Lord, you call each one to serve you in many different ways. Oh, how you love to bless through chosen ones surrendered to you. Lord, may this sentry’s heart know such surrender.

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.”

Certain To Finish

Trust God to see you through your mission (Acts 27:41-44). #GodWillSeeYouThrough #TrustGod https://www.bible.com/116/act.27.41-44.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The ship in which Paul sailed was driven aground on a shoreline shoal. It was being smashed to pieces by furious breakers. Soldiers, fearing the consequence of losing their own lives if any prisoners escaped, wanted to kill them. Julius, the Roman soldier in charge, stopped them. Julius trusted Paul and wanted to spare him. Ultimately every prisoner swam safely to shore (as did the entire ship’s company).

God had a plan. He can and will bring deliverance from the most unlikely of sources. When God’s plan and mission is at stake he will use any and all resources at his disposal. Lord, it has been my experience of almost 75 years of life (whether family, parenting, ministry, relationships), you have seen me through every mission to which you have called me.

“Learne To Pray”

Come in prayer to the shelter of the Most High God in the midst of the storms of life (Acts27:29). #ShelteredInTheArmsOfGod #PrayHard https://www.bible.com/116/act.27.29.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

To understand the full force of this one verse, one must read the entire account of the typhoon at sea and the escape of the apostle Paul, the ship’s crew and its passengers from certain destruction (vv13-42). Then, Luke says, “Fearing the ship would be driven against the rocks of some shoreline, they threw out four sea anchors to slow the ship down and prayed for daylight.“ These seasoned sailors feared for their lives. They were terrorized by the tumultuous seas for 14 days and nights.

The Welch poet, George Herbert (1593–1633) wrote, “He that will learne to pray, let him go to Sea.” Here, at sea, one may encounter the ultimate in awe and terror. But thanks be to God, as the Psalmist explains in Psalm 91, “The one who lives in the shelter of the Almighty shall not fear the terror of the night.” Lord, you have delivered this sentry through many a terror in my own storm tossed seas of life. I have seen the glory of the Lord – I will sing of my redeemer God.

OH LORD, HOW I PRAISE YOU!

A Place Called Fair Havens

Will you learn to live and serve in the place God plants you (Acts 27:7-12)? #GrowWhereYouArePlanted #FindContentmentInGod https://www.bible.com/116/act.27.9-13.nlt

Fair Havens, Island of Crete

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Many a ship, crew and cargo have been lost because of decisions made by men to ignore the facts at hand. Paul pleaded with the ship’s officers to wait out the winter storms in a place called Fair Havens. But the ship’s company thought Fair Havens an incommodious place. They decided, against better judgment, to set sail for the more commodious port of Phoenix.

How often we wish to leave the Fair Havens of life, thinking to outrun the storms ahead. We look to the more favorable places to set anchor and harbor. We ignore the signs of tragedy ahead. We ignore the counsel of God. We leave the Fair Havens given by God and set sale for our own desired comforts. Lord, I pray this aged old sentry has finally learned to trust you and grow and serve where you plant me?

Tribute To Honor

Live your life with honor and trustworthiness (Acts27:1,3). #Honor #Trustworthy https://www.bible.com/116/act.27.1,3.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Acts 27:1–12 describes the beginning of Paul’s journey by sea to Rome. Dr. Luke and Aristarchus accompany him. The journey is recorded by Luke, the author of Acts. The pronoun, “we,“ gives us that clue. Paul and some other prisoners are put under the charge of a Roman officer named Julius.

At the first stop on their journey, Julius allows Paul, his prisoner, and the two travel companions to leave his charge. They were allowed to go ashore, meet with friends and pick up things Paul will need for the journey. This is truly amazing, because Julius put his life and career on the line for Paul to leave his charge in such a way. What a tribute to the character of Paul. Father, may the life of this sentry in your service be characterized by such honor and trustworthiness. In this, even those who oppose me will trust me.

A Timely Word

Do not fear to speak boldly for Christ (Acts 26:19,20,24-29; Ezk 3:27). #WitnessForChrist https://www.bible.com/116/act.26.19-20,24-29.nlt https://www.bible.com/116/ezk.3.27.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul’s example and appeal is clear. When faced with an opportunity to share the gospel be respectful, tell the truth and share your personal story. These will be your best defense of the gospel. Explain that Jesus came to save those who would turned to him. He died and resurrected that men may have forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are irrefutable facts in history. A personal testimony is an irrefutable fact in history. Simple truth and reason will bring men and women to a point of decision. The rest is up to them to accept or reject. Lord, lead this sentry to speak the message you give, when you give it. The rest is up to you.

(Ezk 3:27) But when I give you a message, I will loosen your tongue and let you speak. Then you will say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Those who choose to listen will listen, but those who refuse will refuse, for they are rebels.

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.

Beware The “Spirit Of Religion“

Be discerning and reject a spirit of religion* (Acts 25:1-5). #SpiritOfReligion #TraditionsOfMen #SalvationByWorks https://www.bible.com/116/act.25.1-5.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Two years after Paul had been accused of trumped up charges by Jewish leaders he had not been convicted. He was still in custody. A new governor, Festus, had been installed. He met with the same Jewish leaders that had accused Paul originally. They were still bent on killing Paul.

For two years Jewish leaders carried on in their vindictive murderous spirit against Paul and the “Way“ (23:12-14). A demonic spirit of religion* had consumed these religious leaders. They were desperate to save their “sacred traditions” from the freedoms of grace in Christ; that liberty in Christ which Paul preached. Lord, may we be free of any legalistic form of religion.

* A “spirit of religion” might be defined as any evil spirit that inspires a degree of commitment to religious traditions, works and practices in such a way as to oppose and perhaps even counterfeit the true work of the Holy Spirit. This is a work of Satan to turn people away from the freedom and liberty of grace in Christ.

Set-back, Flip-side, Up-side

Utilize your setbacks in life to point people to Christ (Acts 24:22-27). #FlipSideUpSide https://www.bible.com/116/act.24.24-27.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

After Paul had made his defense, Felix, the governor, stopped the hearing. He determined to delay his verdict. He put Paul back in custody. No evidence, no charges, no verdict. Paul was held in custody for two years before Felix was replaced (v27). Two years. We read no record of complaint by Paul. What we do read is how very often Felix, the governor and his wife Drusilla, a Jew, would call for Paul and talk to him about the “Way“ (v22).

Paul was forthright in his witness and did not back away from calling out sin. For two years it seems Paul was put on hold. But he used this time to witness for Christ to a Roman governor and likely many others. At times I may feel abandoned by God, set aside. Yet, God has a flip-side, an up-side, for every circumstance. Lord, may I always look for opportunities in life‘s setbacks to honor and glorify you.

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.

Night Passage

Our task as followers of Christ is to faithfully obey, one step at a time (Acts 23:23,24). #OneStepAtATime #TrustGod https://www.bible.com/116/act.23.23-24.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

When God calls a person to a mission – He called Paul to a mission; said he would go to Rome to preach the gospel message (Acts 23:11; 25:12) – God will see that it is carried out.

Because of the threat against Paul’s life, his journey to Rome begins secretly in a night passage with an armed Roman escort out of town to Caesarea. Two hundred soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 spearmen would bring Paul safely to the governor, Felix, for trial.

Paul is safely delivered, including a letter explaining the allegations against him (vv26-30). Felix agrees to hear Paul’s case when formal charges were filed (v35). I may not always understand the means by which God works, but I may always trust God. He will go to any lengths to enable the obedient servant. The task of the prayer sentry is to faithfully follow.

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.

The Extremity Remedy

When life gets difficult, trust God to lead & guide you (Acts23:11). #TrustGod #TakeCourageInChrist https://www.bible.com/116/act.23.11.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Acts 22:1-23:10 is an account of Paul’s testimony before an angry Jewish mob in the temple of Jerusalem and before the Jewish high Council. At this point, Paul is in the custody of a Roman cohort because he was the subject of a rioting mob of Jews. In the midst of all the confusion of a riot, that nearly cost Paul his life, his arrest and inquisition (Roman and Jewish), Paul must have wondered, as we often do, “Okay Lord, what do I do now?”

Then comes Acts 23:11, “The Lord stood at Paul’s side and spoke plainly to him – ‘Have courage, you have faithfully witnessed to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must do the same in Rome.’ “ Here’s the sentinel takeaway: When you are in the center of God‘s will, he will not fail to speak courage and purpose into your life. So Lord, when life gets difficult, I will trust you to lead and guide me. You are my “Extremity Remedy.”

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.

Thread The Needle

Don’t allow traditions to disrupt sincere fellowship among believers (Acts 21:21-26). #SincereFaith #ThreadTheNeedle https://www.bible.com/116/act.21.19-21,26.nlt

Once again Paul finds himself caught between Jewish tradition and the new Christian faith. Again he is confronting the Jerusalem church elders steeped in Jewish tradition. Both Paul and these elders had come along way from the Acts 15 conflict. They all seemed more prepared to yield to each other as being sincere in faith. Everyone seemed confident that various traditions among believers and between church bodies were acceptable. As long as they understood that traditions are not the means of salvation.

The fundamental issue is faith in the cross of Christ for the atonement of sin, as the solitary means of salvation. What follows after that is a matter of choice and conscience. It is a matter of threading the needle between relationships and religious tradition.

It would seem that relationships over traditions would be a small matter when it comes to the all important mission of taking the gospel to a lost world. Yet, if the world is to see faith in action among believers, then relationships must always trump ritual and religion.

Father, may the faithful sentry seek to find common ground with sincere believers who worship different than they; who have different backgrounds than they, but worship the same Jesus.