Paul must have felt tremendous responsibility for the church in Colosse and Laodicea. He did not found these two churches. Others who had come to Christ through Paul’s ministry (Acts 19:10) found these churches (Epaphras in Colosse – v7). Paul may have thought, “I hope I have adequately discipled these converts and that they may stand strong in the face of adversity and false teaching.”
Paul agonizes for their steadfastness in faith. He encourages them and reminds them of the truth they believed in Christ. He does all he can to continue pointing them to that truth. Lord, I have felt the responsibility of mentoring others in ministry. I have agonized over ministry plants in places near and far. To train and disciple is a joy. It is also a weighty responsibility. Father, may I always take such work seriously.
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.
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.
Isaiah laments the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. The pride of her capital Samaria has shaken off the reins of a loving but holy God. Now she faces only sorrow and heartache. Her end will come at the hands of a mighty army. It will come suddenly as a “mighty hail storm and torrential rain.“ It will “burst upon [them] like a surging flood and smash it to the ground.“ It will be “trampled under the enemies’ feet.”
Let the southern kingdom of Judah be warned. Because of Israel’s pride, her once great beauty will fade into oblivion. She has arrogantly shaken her fist in the face of God. She unwittingly brings God’s wrath upon her. Lord, how sin does pervert the human heart. How the sin of pride dismantles good sense. Lord, may my oft wayward heart find its way quickly back to you.
When a nation flaunts its sin, judgement is not far behind. May the wayward heart of America, my beloved country, humble itself, repent and turn quickly back to God.
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.
The consequence of ignoring the dangers of aberrant weather has now caught up with the crew of Paul’s ship headed to Rome. A dangerous storm of hurricane force engulfs the ship. The sun, moon and stars are no longer visible for navigation. They are driven some 300 miles off course. They will surely shipwreck. The crew works feverishly. They bind the hull with ropes for strength. They cast off all the cargo and ship’s gear to lighten the ship. All, to no avail. There is terror on board. All hope had gone out them.
When we find ourselves on the horns of a dangerous dilemma we will exhaust ourselves trying to fight our way through. Having ignored God from the start, we may continue to do all but listen to God…until finally, all hope is gone. Then, just maybe, we will stop, look up and seek God’s help. Oh Lord, may I be delivered from insisting on my own way and trust you sooner than later.
Only a foolish man or woman would take a know-it-all position towards life. Such a person looks despicably upon wisdom and knowledge – they cannot be told anything. But a wise person (who, by the way, may not be the most educated person in the room) will stop, look and listen. Then they will speak in measured, carefully spoken words.
The hallmark of a person who is wise is their reverence and respect for God. There in lies the foundation of all wisdom and knowledge. Father, may I be still and silent before you; the ears of my understanding open and ready to receive true knowledge.
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 12 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends find courage in faithfully reading and applying God’s Word.
In the preface to the book of Joshua (New Living Translation) it says, “To be a strong leader like Joshua, we must be ready to listen and to move quickly when God instructs [Oh, the lost opportunities that sloth and indecision do bring]…”
“…Once we have God‘s instructions, we must be diligent in carrying them out.“ Strong, courageous men and women of faith do not deviate from God‘s Word; they study it, meditate on it (digest it), pray it and obey it. Lord, may I consistently and persistently be a student of your Word; then move with courage
Day 9 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends be rooted, built up, strengthened in Christ and overflowing in thankfulness.
There is a way for the Christian to be secure in faith. It must begin with a healthy root system. Roots that go deep into the soil, are succulent and long, provide the best chance for a healthy plant. These roots absorb water, dissolve minerals, feed the tap root, and store reserves. Without a healthy root system the plant will be barren.
The sentinel need of any watchman is a vibrant faith. For faith to grow healthy the sentry must put roots down deep into the Word of God and be built up on the knowledge of Christ. Then, no matter what is going on above ground the sentry will be established in truth, live a healthy spiritual life and bear much good fruit. Lord your word abundantly nourishes my faith life.
Day 8 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends show enthusiasm for obedience to your word. The apostle Paul issues five sentinel orders; five imperatives that some up his message in First Corinthians:
1) BE ALERT (awake, vigilant, on guard and alive) to the Evil One’s strategies. 2) STAND FIRM (planted in, anchored in) the truth of the gospel – trust in God‘s truthfulness. 3) BE COURAGEOUS (mature, confident) to speak truth in love and conviction. 4) BE STRONG (as in well fed) nourished and growing in the truth. 5) BE LOVING; love moderates all the attitudes and actions of the sentry on duty.
“HOOAH!” – YES LORD!
* According to Stars & Stripes (military news paper) – “HOOAH” (or “huah”) is unique to the Army. Some say it stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged,” but it is often shouted to express determination and Army spirit. “HOOAH!”
Day 2 of 40 Prayer For Family – Father, defeat in my family the desires to walk according to our sinful nature (that which is defiant of God) resulting in sexual immorality, impurity, lust for pleasures, idolatry, sorcery (occult), hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outburst of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, hedonism, et al. Such will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21).
But may our family walk according to the Holy Spirit who produces a different result – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, truthfulness and self-control. Lord, fill us with your Spirit. May we all daily close the door on the influence to our sinful nature and walk yielded to the work of your Spirit.
Paul is about to leave the leaders of the church at Ephesus. He will entrust them with the great message of grace. He tells them, “GUARD yourselves…feed and care for the flock – the church. “WATCH OUT!“ Be alert to false teachers and prideful men who seek only a following for themselves. Such people will divide and create disunity in the church.
To “GUARD” and to “WATCH OUT” are a call to arms for the faithful leader in the church and in the family. Standing vigilantly requires him/her to, 1) teach God’s word well, 2) minister in truth and all sincerity, 3) counsel by prayerful insight, sought through tears and deep spiritual connections and 4) sound the alarm when danger approaches. Father, may this sentry effectively share the gospel and express the truth of Scripture by my words and by my example.
You whose heart and life is right with God will have nothing to fear (Isa 33:13–16). #DoTheRightThing
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
“OMG!“ Fearful of judgement, the people bellow, “Who can survive the Holy?“ Isaiah gives the short answer. “Easy. Those who walk with the Holy and speak what is right and true. Those who do not extort by bribery or plot to do evil and violence. Those whose hands, ears and eyes are closed moral pollution. Those who do right in his sight.” These are those who have no need to fear the Holy One.
The Apostle Paul makes the same point. “Rulers hold no terror for those who do right.” (Rom 13:3). This is the man or woman who need not be alarmed, though the judgments of the Holy be all around them. Lord, you are ever before me. My refuge is in you.
The faithful prayer sentry declares with the Psalmist, “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust’ “ (Psm 91:1-2)
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.
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).
While God is a God of love and long-suffering, he is at the same time a “no-fool-around“ God. He is a loving God who is jealous for his people. He will do whatever it takes to bring his people back into a loving relationship with him.
God will become your fiercest adversary if necessary, to call you back to himself. Disaster may come your way. Pain and suffering may come your way. There will be no rest, only distress and unease. There will be no voice to console or guide. Take it from one who has been down that road. Lord, keep the dutiful sentry in a thriving, never fading, love relationship with you.
During the days of King Hezekiah in Judah, Isaiah the prophet is active in his role as conscience of the nation. We are reminded of this in 2Ch 32:20–22, when Isaiah stands with Hezekiah in prayer against the oncoming Asyrian armies. God fights and wins that battle for Judah.
But in the northern kingdom of Israel, Assyria has already lead them into captivity. It happened to King Hoshea in the sixth year of Hezekiah‘s reign. Why? Because of their gross rejection of the covenant with the Lord their God. The Assyrians were used by God to bring judgment on his people. Isaiah will have more to say about this. Lord, your sentry would be lost without your loving discipline.