Highway To The Heart

Prayer: Remove every obstacle that hinders the work of God in your life (Isa 40:3–5). #OpenYourHeartToGod https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.40.3-5.NLT

Clear the way for Messiah in your life

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Here we enter into the preparations of a great Monarch to forge a path through hostile desert places, perilous/treacherous mountain passes and murky low places, serpentine pathways and impassable routes. Why? So that the Monarch may be with the people of his/her kingdom.

“The Voice?“ A crier, lowly and hidden by the royalty and glory of the Monarch. The crier leads a great procession, legions of crews and engineers, to remove every obstacle hindering access of said Monarch to the people. Jehovah God, the Monarch, will move to deliver his people from the baneful hand of Babylon.

Just so, John the Baptist was a “voice” in the wilderness crying out, “Make way [clear the way] for the Messiah [our Monarch].” He is the deliverer of all men from sin (Jhn 1:23). The Lord Jesus has come to deliver us in these modern times and epochs from the curse of sin. Open the highway to your heart. Lord, may I tear down every obstacle that hinders the work of the most high God in my life (1Co 10:5).

No Love Like God’s love

Prayer: Come quickly, humbly and often to the soft and tender mercies of God (Isa 40:1,2). #TheComfortOfGod https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.40.1-2.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Could there be any more consoling words than those spoken here by God to Isaiah. The prophet is told to speak tenderly to his people who will face punishment for their sin. Isaiah is to speak words of comfort and pardon for sin.

Oh sinner, rebellious child of God, the sovereign God‘s heart breaks for you. No God like the God of heaven bears his heart to sinners and rebels like our God. Lord, this sentry is in debt for your pardon of my sin and your heart towards me and all who have sinned against you.

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.”

Sacrifice That Pleases God

Prayer: Give generously to God; he will be your provision (Phi 4:10,14–19). #CantOutGiveGod #GodIsMySupply https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.10,14-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The love and admiration between Paul and the Philippian church went both ways. He loved them and they loved him. They did not need coaxing to help Paul financially. It was and is what friends do. Help each other in times of need. They stood with Paul and his mission work like no other church.

Paul views their generous financial help as a sweet smelling sacrifice, pleasing to God. This same God will continue to supply all their needs, and his. We serve a God who is able to provide for every task to which he calls us.

Lord, I can never out give you. You supply my every need, allowing me to give generously to the cause of Christ. Thank you also Lord, for my church and it’s generous mission work.

It Ain’t Rocket Science

Tap into the formula of God‘s joy, contentment and peace (Phi 4:8,9). #KnowGod #JoyPeaceContentment https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.8-9.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

This is not rocket science. If you always want to be full of joy (v4), contentment (v6) and know God’s peace (v7), do this: focus on the soon return of Christ (v5), spend time with God in prayer (v6) and exemplary living (v8) – enthusiastically embrace the truth and what is honorable; embrace what is ethically right and morally pure; embrace amiability and virtuous living; embrace an attitude of praise for all it is excellent.

Give attention to these things, study them, practice them. All of these things practiced consistently will lead to a life of joy and contentment and peace. It ain’t rocket science. Lord, I recognize that true joy, contentment and peace are not out of the grasp of even an aged old sentry.

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.

Resolve Your Differences

Prayer: Resolve to be at peace with all men (Phi 4:2,3; Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14,15). #BuryTheHatchet https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.2-3.nlt

Jones/Landry: Time To Bury The Hatchet

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul turns his attention to two women in the church at Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche. Their harsh disagreement comes as a bitter pill for Paul to swallow. First, because of his love for this church and second, because of their previous effective hard work sharing the good news with Paul and others.

Perhaps Paul recalls his own falling out with John Mark and Barnabas (Acts 13:13; 15:37-39). When it comes to the Christian life before a watching world, it is time to mend fences and resolve to be at peace with all men (Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14,15). Lord, lead me to correct any unresolved conflicts in my life.

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.

No Quit

Prayer: Be in receive mode for God‘s instruction (Phi 3:1). #HearGod #SpeakForGod https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.1.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Oh, precious dear friends, remember to always rejoice in the Lord, no matter what comes your way. It is a joy for Paul to remind his dear brothers and sisters in the faith to rejoice in every circumstance. It is a joy for Paul to keep on telling them of the things that will safeguard their faith.This is just good fatherly advice going forward.

Paul says, “I never get tired.” Every spirit-filled pastor, Bible teacher and evangelist is motivated by the joy of Jesus to come week after week to a podium to instruct, exhort and reprove the people of God. Father, it has been my joy, though often tedious, to teach others from your Word. Thank you for the privilege.

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)*

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*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.

Teacher, Mentor, Discipler

Prayer: Never stop growing…or leading others to grow (Phi 2:19–22). #UTeachULearnUTeach #LeadByExample https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.19-22.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

How very important it is to train/mentor/disciple others to continue the work of faith in Christ. It is the job of the elder to pull the younger up to a place on your shoulders where they can see the folly of youth, grasp the pertinence of wisdom and learn to make prudent choices. Then, when he/she is unaware, to slip out from beneath, leaving them to stand on his/her own. The elder shares their place of prominence without making the younger feel painfully inadequate. Such was the work of Paul with Timothy.

Like teaching a youngster to ride a bike. You hold them up, help with balance, run beside them and then let go as they peddle their way forward. They don’t even realize you’ve let go. Eventually you stop and just cheer the youngster on forward. Lord, may I never stop teaching…or learning.

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.

Quintessential Humility

Prayer: Seek to put others first (Phi 2:3-5; Luk 14:8-11). #Humility #Christlikeness https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.3-5.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul rounds out his charge to the Philippines for wholehearted unity, love for one another and working together with one purpose. One word, “humility.” That’s how you do it. He gives the quintessential definition of humility: just put others first.

Set aside selfishness, looking out for my own interests. Set aside pretension and rejoice to magnify others as more than or just as deserving of praise. Show an interest in the good of others. In other words, “put others first.“ This is humility according to Paul and to Christ (see Luke 14:8-11). Lord, may I strive to always put others first, ahead of my own interests.

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.

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

“Those People”

Prayer: Look beyond circumstances and see the greater work God is accomplishing (Phi 1:15–19). #Rejoice #BelieveGod https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.15-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

We could spend all our time bemoaning our circumstances, thinking, we are better than this or that; thinking we deserve more, better. We sometimes compare ourselves to others. We ask God why “those people“ have all the good fortune.

Paul, writing from prison no less, for simply preaching the Good News, doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He doesn’t spend his time criticizing and judging “those people.“ Those preachers, whose egos are bigger than life, who are free to go where and when they want. No. Paul sees the bigger picture. He trusts God completely to care for, guide and use him. Lord, I surrender my circumstances to you. May I not complain, but stand in faith and rejoice in knowing that you are always at work for my good and your glory.

Fearless Faith

Prayer: Face each day with fearless faith (Phi 1:12-14). #FearlessFaith #BoldWitness https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.12-14.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

This is my free translation of Paul’s message in these few verses. “I’m in prison but everything that has happened to me here is helping to spread the Gospel. Everyone here in prison knows my mission to spread the Gospel…even the prison guards. Believers here with me in prison are emboldened to share the Gospel message – WERE WINNING! NO FEAR!“

Never underestimate the power of your influence for Christ. Your voice, your countenance, your message, your encouragement, your passion for sharing Jesus can help others to face their troubles and fears. What great opportunities to share the Gospel await me every day. Lord, may I face every situation, not with fear but, with fearless faith.

Following The Christ-Life

Prayer: Be a living expression of Christ-likeness (Phi 1:9-11). #TheChristLife https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.9-11.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

What is the prayer, that “holy hug,” that Paul expresses for his beloved friends in Philippi? He prays that the love of Christ might pour out in abundance from them to others. He prays that they will continue to grow in their knowledge of Christ, that they might live moral upright lives. He prays that they will be filled with the fruit of salvation (the righteous character of Christ). The ultimate goal of all of this is that they will bring much glory, praise, to God.

So, following Paul’s example, I pray for my family, friends and nation that Christ love might abound in them, knowledge of Christ will continue to grow, that Christ-likeness will be revealed in them and that ultimately, God will be glorified in their lives. And Lord, may my love, Christian character and witness also bring glory to the father.

The Holy Hug

Prayer: Learn prayer as a “holy hug;” embracing others in the Spirit of Christ (Phi 1:4,9). #HolyHug #Prayer https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.4,9.nlt

Prayer: The Holy Hug

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul continues his affectionate greeting. He communicates his prayers and encouragement to the Philippian believers. It his way of embracing those far away from him and giving them a spiritual hug, a “holy hug.”

So it has also become my joy to pray for and write to those for whom I pray – my wife, my children, grandchildren and spiritual adopteds; my neighbors, friends, leaders in my church, leaders in our nation, state, county and city; for all others whom the Lord gives a reason for me to pray.

This is the call of the prayer sentry, to search God’s word daily, to hear and receive from him my assignments in prayer. Then to pray for these beloved family, friends, leaders and others.