Who God Is

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Give us hearts to serve the destitute, discouraged and disenfranchised (Psm 68:5,6). #GodIsFatherToTheFatherless #GodIsDefenderOfTheDestitute #GodIsComfortToTheLonely #GodIsJoyToThePrisoner

This Is Who God Is

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Reading Psalm 68:5-6, I think of the ministry God has called me to (spanning some 53 years). I have served in the church as well as Christian and civic organizations. Many of those years (some 36 years; about 70%), were spent serving the last, the least, the lost and the lonely – especially jail/prison inmates, their wives and children.

Serving alongside many dear Christian friends, I have seen firsthand God’s fatherly touch in the lives of the fatherless, the lonely, the widowed, abandoned wives and mothers, the prisoner. This is who God is (v5). Lord, thank you for the joy I have observed on so many faces as I have been witness to your multiplied deliverance in so many lives.

The Road Ahead

A dear friend txted me this message after he read my blog yesterday, “Burden Uploaded.” He said, “[Your post yesterday was a good read]. I’m so sorry you are walking this road my friend.


I thought about what he wrote. These were my thoughts shared with him:

“I’ve got plenty of Jesus men & women in my circle. I get to see Jesus acts on a regular basis.

I’m thankful. I could have lost my girl to cancer in 2003, again in 2017. Instead God gave us 20 more years together…and counting.

My post describes what happens when I get overly focused on the “road” before me. Best thing is, God knows that. He was already waiting for me in that tight spot in the road. Jesus people were in line to minister to my need.

I’m a Jesus guy and now I know how to minister to others out of my difficulties. I’m refreshed and ready for the road ahead.”

Burden Uploaded

Yesterday I posted this verse: “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭68:19‬ ‭‬‬

I ask the question, “How exactly does God bear our burdens?“ That is, where is the way-station where one can “cast upon him all of one’s cares” (1Pe 5:7; Psm 55:22)?

This blog was never intended to be, as such, a place for me to share with the world my personal journey. But it seemed right that the prayer sentry not ignore the sometimes difficult personal struggles that he/she faces. It affects the way the sentry comes to his/her post in the watch tower of prayer.

In this case yesterday, I came to my duty post with a troubled heart. Anxious, distracted heart might be a better description (Phi 4:6,7). Why? Because, among other things, I was overwhelmed with the daily life of a caregiver. I care for my beautiful sweet wife of 50+ years, who is battling a couple of debilitating health issues. The most challenging of these is dementia in the Alzheimer’s family. She was diagnosed in 2011.

Dementia is a painfully slow and progressive disease. It is a maniacal thief who steals one’s life, one memory at a time. Memories of family life, memories of friends, memories of certain motor skills, memories of learned skills, memories of daily routines. The list goes on. It is impossible to describe or explain the challenges without many examples and stories of disheartening and discouraging narratives. I’ll spare you this. Suffice it to say, I hit an emotional wall, as caregivers often do.

What is that emotional wall? It is that place one comes to when the breath seems to have been knocked out of you. Tumultuous emotions bubble to the surface. There is pain, sorrow, empathy, tears, anger all rolled up into one moment of anxious despair. You cannot think past the next dish in the sink you might be washing or that load of clothes you are stuffing in the washer. You hold back sobs of grief, try to cover them up. Sometimes you can. Other times, not so much. Maybe you walk to another room in the house (I’ve done all these things and more). All the while, that cognitively impaired loved one looks on in a strange and quiet curiosity; perhaps tries to console. But they are unable to express their thoughts very well or speak deeply into the need. You wonder how you can go on. But go on you must.

That is where I was yesterday and the night before. HOW DO I DO THIS LORD? HOW, WHEN, WILL THE BURDEN I FEEL BE LIFTED?

THEN..,

…our daughter, with her own family to care for, txtd me, “Dad, I’m coming over. Be there in a minute.” She proceeded to do some caregiving of her own.

The next day a dear friend and brother in Christ called me. He himself is wrestling with some very challenging circumstances. He called to share an encouraging word with me from Scripture.

Our son txtd me. He wanted to meet me for coffee. He lives about 40 minutes away. But he was off and wanted to spend some time with me. He let me know he is standing with me.

Finally, a neighbor txtd me and said, “I’m bringing you dinner tonight.” She was removing from my shoulders the burden of dinner prep.

I asked the question at the begining, “How exactly does God bear our burdens?“ That is, where is the way-station where one can “cast upon him all of one’s cares”

God wasted no time to answer. He said to me, “Your burden is lifted when brothers and sisters in Christ decide to make the call, make the visit, share a word of encouragement, make that special meal.” That’s exactly what happened

The answer was there all along:

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2)

encourage the fainthearted, help the weak,” (1Th 5:14).

Today, I picked up the phone and called a dear sister in Christ who is providing care for her husband. I made arrangements to pick him up and take him out for coffee in the next couple weeks. Maybe she will have a chance to sit down and rest for a couple hours. Maybe she too will feel a burden lifted.

Timeless Benediction

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND

May you know and rest in the timeless assurance of God (Jud 1:24,25; Heb 4:3). #ToGodAscribeAllPowerAndMajesty

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Here is a benediction that the apostle Paul would be proud of (see Paul’s benediction Rom 16:25). “All glory to God“ who stands watch over the souls of his called out ones. He will deliver them “faultless“ into his very holy presence (Eph 5:27).

“All glory to God“ who alone has rescued us in Christ Jesus our Lord from an eternal hell. “All glory to God“ for his timeless greatness/splendor, his power and authority – that is “before all time, in this present time and beyond times and times to come.“ In these last days, awaiting Christ return, we may rest confidently in our God.

Lord, words fail this aged sentry to express my trust in your absolute power and majesty. But it is where my soul comes down to rest, even “the rest of God (Heb 4:3). What a blessed and timeless benediction!

Do The Unexpected

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Treat those antagonistic towards the faith with Mercy and Prayer (Jud 1:22,23). #Mercy #TheUnexpected

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

How do I treat and pray for those who malign faith in Christ and the biblical values I hold dear? Do the unexpected thing. Be merciful towards others whose faith is faltering; rescue those who have gone to the dark side. But do so cautiously, hating the sin and not getting caught up in their departure from faith. Galatians 6:1 comes to mind.

Certainly praying for those who malign the faith is implied here and made clear in Luke 6:28. As hard as it may be, pray for those who live and think contrary to you. Do the unexpected thing. Pray for them. Over time your attitude towards them will change. Mercy will kick in. Lord, create in me a desire to act mercifully towards those who have faltered or left the faith and to pray for them.

Forever Assured

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Be assured of God’s complete work of grace in your life (Jude 1:1,2). #Grace #Mercy #Peace #Love #GospelAssurance

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Jude writes to Christians across the centuries. He writes to me. Jude, the brother of Jesus, writes to all who have believed the Gospel. His opening prayer for us (me) is that we stand firm in the Gospel call of God, our father, who secures us by his Son, by the Shepherd’s care of Jesus.

Jude prays that we would receive more mercy, peace and love. That is, the supply of mercy for our sin, peace for our anxieties and love for our conditional acceptance of others is full, abundant and never ending. Whatever our need for mercy, peace and love, it is in eternal supply. Lord, I have no fear of slipping from your grasp or falling short of the Gospel attributes of faith and action.

Knot So Tangled

“Then I said, ‘I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.’” ‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

When I began my “Spiritual R&R” on July 29, twenty-one days ago, I did not know the Gordian Knot of perplexity that I would face. I did not know how desperately I would need to create some space and time in my life for God to speak to my heart.

Within a couple of days of beginning my Spiritual R&R, I ran headlong into a spiritual dilemma (God knows our need even before we ask – Mat 6:8). It was not life-threatening. Nor would I call it a crisis. It was simply a matter of untangling some things in my life and finding the assurance of God’s will. It led me through 21 days of prayer, counsel and searching in God’s word.

I did not expect the dilemma. Nor did I expect from where or how the answer would come. But I can say with all certainty that our God is a mighty and all-knowing God. There is no knot in life so complex that God cannot untangle. There is no dilemma that I face for which God has not already prepared the path forward.

THE TAKE AWAY?

I didn’t really understand the need or the prompting in my heart from God to step back from my normal routine of reading God’s word and prayer. I needed to draw more deeply from his well. My confession is this: I know that if I am obedient to God, he will always see me through. I’m a better man for it. ALWAYS!

Got Steel?

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Be fortified against the opposition of sin and evil (Jer 1:18-19). #ManOfSteel #GotSteel #FightForTruthAndJustice

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The message Jeremih had for the people – kings, politicians, priests, ministers, the people of God was one of judgment for sin. Jeremiah would be scorned and rejected. But his detractors would fail. God would make of Jeremiah a fortified city, a man of steel, to speak against sin.

Anyone called of God is obligated to teach and explain the whole counsel of God. It is not always a glorious task. Rather it can be and is an inglorious one. Many will not listen. In fact they may fight against you. But God’s promise to the man or woman of God is that he will steel you against the opposition of the world against truth. Lord, this posted sentry is relying upon you to fortify him in the trenches of ministry and prayer.

Never Too Young

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Lord, give us children sensitive to the call of God on their lives (Jer 1:4,5; Psm 139:13-17). #NeverTooYoung #GodSpeaksToChildren

“I’m Listening Lord” (1Sa 3:10)

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Jeremiah was young (13–16 years of age). He grew up in the home of a priest; likely was enrolled in a school for scribes. Jeremiah certainly knew the history of God‘s call on young men in Israel (Samuel, David, Sampson). Jeremiah begins here in his journal by acknowledging the “Sovereign” voice of God (v6). One has to appreciate this young man’s foresight to journal.

Jeremiah writes, “I [God] knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb [Psm 139:13-17]. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah knew God’s voice and he knew his call at a very early age. Lord, may our children and their children recognize your call on their lives. Keep this sentry’s heart sensitive to children called to ministry.

Small Town Boy; Big Time Mission

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Listen to God, do all he says to do (Jer 1:1,2,17,18,19). #ListenToGod #NeverTooYoungForGod

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

I am reading the very words of the prophet Jeremiah (second only in the Old Testament to Isaiah). Jeremiah was born in a small town (Anathoth, a Levite city; 3 1/2 miles north of Jerusalem). Jeremiah’s father, Hilkiah, was a godly priest. Jeremiah may have been in a school for scribes in Anathoth. Jeremiah was born about the time of a godly young king, Josiah,

Under Josiah, Judah was having a revival (2 Chronicles 34). But the revival was short-lived. Young Jeremiah (about age 13 to15) was called by God to take a big message of repentance to the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

[It gives me pause to consider some of the children God called into his service: the prophet Samuel, King David, King Josiah, Jeremiah, Mary, mother of Jesus, to mention a few – you’re never to young for God to use you.]

So, Jeremiah began to preach repentance to the people of God. In verses 17-19, Jeremiah gets his marching orders. Life would not be easy for this prophet of God. This old sentry never ceases to be challenged by the lives of young men and women God called into his service.

Reluctant Prophet

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Have courage to follow God’s directions (Jer 1:4-10). #CourageToFollowGod #ListenToGod

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

I enter into my daily readings looking at the prophet Jeremiah. I am as reluctant to this reading as Jeremiah was to God‘s call on his life (v6). Jeremiah may have been in his early to mid teens when God called him. Jeremiah Chapter 1 would have been a lot for this teenager to absorb.

Perhaps Jeremiah’s response is similar to young Mary when an Angel of the Lord informed her that she would give birth to the Son of God (Luk 1:29-38). And, like Mary, Jeremiah was also told not to fear, that God would be with him. And, like Mary, he moves ahead in his special call from God. Lord, may this sentry always have the courage to listen to you and follow without hesitation.

Never Looked Back

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

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

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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

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

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

Abundant Gratitude

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Give abundant praise to God for his generous provision (Psm 65:9–13). #GodOfAllHarvest #GodsProvision #ManReceivesFreelyFromGod

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

God forgives resulting in man’s eternal celebration in the courts of Heaven (vv1-4); God faithfully attends to man’s prayers resulting in joy to the ends of the earth (vv5–8); God furnishes generously an abundance of crops resulting in joyous shouts of praise the world over (vv9–13).

Who gives the seed to plant? (Who has ever created such a seed?) Who gives the rich soil for seeds to grow? Who waters the earth for plants and animals to live and thrive? God does all of this. At what charge? No charge! God blesses all men from a generous bountiful heart. Lord, you give freely to all men. Men ought always to be grateful and thankful to the God of such abundant provision.

Shield & Defense

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Trust God as the ultimate victor in life‘s battles (Psm 21:8–13). #TheBattleIsTheLords #MyShieldAndDefense

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The plans of the wicked may seem to gain ground temporarily. The wicked may win this battle or that. But the Lord is the ultimate victor in the war. The song says, “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer…In his arms he’ll take and shield you. You will find a solace there.“*

The Lord will consume the enemy. The enemy will flee at the mere sight of God’s presence. “We celebrate God‘s mighty victories.“ Lord, you are the sentry’s mighty shield and defense against the wicked forces in this world

* What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Joseph M. Scriven, 1855; the tune was composed by Charles Crozat Converse, 1868

The Road I’ve Traveled

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Give thanks to God for your victories in life (Psm 21:1–7). #RoadLessTraveled #GiveThanksToGod #GodAloneIsMyVictory

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

I have known wonderful victories in the Lord. God has blessed me beyond measure. He has blessed me with godly parents and sister, a charitable and generous wife. He has embellished my path with children and grandchildren who seek after God.

I have enjoyed the blessings of living in a free country. I have known success and joy in places I have worked and ministered. God has anointed me with beautiful and long lasting friendships. All I have is from God and I thank him. Oh Lord, how I rejoice over your strength to me and victories.

Forgiveness Points To God’s Glory

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

May you know the glorious redemption of God (Psm 19:12–14). #Forgiveness #HonorGodWithYourWholeHeart

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

A psalm of David – he gives thoughtful consideration to God’s revelation of himself through the cleansing act of forgiveness. God is quick to cleanse the repentant and surrendered heart from every sin – known and unknown.

The surrendered and obedient soul will be delivered from the absolute control of sin and the guilt that follows. God is a rock and redeemer to those who seek to honor him with their whole heart and actions. Lord, your loving forgiveness points this old sentry to your glorious redemption of his soul. May it be so for the world around me.

Scripture Points To God’s Glory

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Savor the value and sweetness of Scripture as witness to God’s glory (Psm 19:7–11). #SweeterThanHoney #LifeGivingInstruction #GodsWord #MoreValuableThanGold

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

A psalm of David – he gives thoughtful consideration to God‘s revelation of himself through Scripture. God‘s word is perfect, trustworthy, accurate, clear and true. God‘s word revives the soul, makes one wise and brings joy. It gives insight for living, is fair, gives warning and reward for obedience.

God‘s word is highly desirable, more valuable than gold. It is sweeter than pure honey to the soul. God‘s word points me to his glory and leads me to eternal admiration for him. Lord, I look to your word for life-giving instruction and knowledge of you.

Heavens Declare God’s Glory

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

See and give thanks to God for nature’s witness to his glory (Psm 19:1-6). #TheHeavensDeclareGodsGlory

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

A song with David – the psalmist gives careful thought to God‘s revelation of himself in nature. The skies overhead proclaim God‘s glory. Daily the skies open up over every nation – good and evil. God reveals himself every day in the beauty of the heavens and in the vast expanse of the cosmos (Rom 1:19,20).

God paints the skies at sunrise and sunset. Even when no one is there to observe it, God paints. The sun follows its course. Men set their watches, their calendars and seasons according to God‘s courses above. Oh Lord, though the eyes of this sentry grow dimmer by the day, let them take in all your glory and goodness in the natural world around me.

Coming Home

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Follow the Lord faithfully; find hope in his word (Zep 3:18–20). #HomeComing #TogetherAgain https://bible.com/bible/116/zep.3.18-20.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Zephaniah closes his prophetic words to the nation of Judah with a clear message of hope and rejoicing. “On that day,“ the day of deliverance from their enemies, being “gathered” together is mentioned several times. It is God who does the gathering. The word will go out to all who have been mocked, shamed, ridiculed, oppressed, expelled and disbursed. “Come home!”

“Come home!” The enemy is defeated. It is the remnant, God’s faithful ones, who will rejoice and come together again. They will be honored as favored ones. Their good name and fortunes will be restored. God has said it. It will be and it was so. God’s word is full of hope for those faithful to him. Lord, may we see such a revival, such an ingathering, as this today.

Holy Hootenanny*

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

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

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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

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

Sing a Sweet, Sweet Song Of Salvation:

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

There Is Hope

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Hope in, anticipate the righteous reign of Christ (Zep 3:8–13). #HaveHope #HopeRenewsTheSpirit

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Israel would understand from the words of this prophet that though they have been severely judged for sin, there will be a day of deliverance as well. They would be returned to their land a different people, humbled and surrendered. And so they were.

But there will also come a future day when God will judge all nations. The curse of Babel will be broken. All will worship God in one tongue. Rebels, the proud and arrogant will be removed. The remnant of faithful followers will dwell in safety and live to honor God. Lord, we look forward with hope to the day when the proud and arrogant will no longer rule; Christ will reign from his eternal throne.

No Evil Will Stand

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Stand fast against evil; wait on the Lord’s judgment (Zep 3:6–8). #GodWillJudge #PatientlyWaitOnTheLord #StandFast

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

God has demonstrated his power over and over again. He has sent warning upon warning to those disobedient to his word. What has man done? He has doubled down on his sin. He has hardened his heart towards God.

Corruption, persecution of goodness and unbelief continue. But to those victims God says, “You be patient…in due time I will pour out my fury and devour evil nations. Judgment is inevitable. Lord, enable the sentry’s everyday response to evil; enable the sentry to speak for and wait on you.

Faithful Father

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Know the assurance of God‘s faithfulness, even in judgment (Zeph 2:7,9; Zep 3:12,13,20). #ExtremeLoveExtremeDiscipline #GodIsAlwaysFaithful

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

There should be no doubt that God will fulfill all his promises to his people (Gen 17). His people will (and have) survived all of antiquity. Through times of severe sorrow, judgment and destruction there has always been a remnant of his faithful ones who survive.

Even so in this passage – though God’s judgment comes upon Jerusalem and his people, he will save a remnant to secure his promise to Abraham. His promises do not abrogate his willingness to correct or even severely discipline his people. Lord your promises to love, keep and stand with me do not mean I shall never be corrected or severely disciplined.

Listen For God’s Voice

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Enlist and heed the words of mature godly voices (Zph 1:1). #GodlyVoices #ListenForGod’sVoice

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The young Josiah takes the throne as King of Judah. He was eight years old. The country is in terrible spiritual decline. There was much complacency and no sorrow for sin. A prophet, Zephaniah, appears on the scene.

Zephaniah is an older relative of Josiah. He was a descendent of Hezekiah, Josiah’s great grandfather. Not sure exactly when Zephaniah ministered, but he helped to fan the flames of religious revival during Josiah‘s reign. He was no doubt a tremendous help and influence on the young king. Lord, this old sentry is always in need of mature godly voices to speak into my life.

Personal Choices

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Follow godly examples; do what is right (2Ch 33:24,2534:1,2). #RoleModelsMatter #PersonalChoicesDetermineYourOutcomes

Josiah, Child King Of Judah

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Following the death and two year reign of king Amon, the people of Judah rose up and slew his assassins. Then they installed his son Josiah as king. Josiah was eight years old when he became king and he reigned for 31 years. Scripture would come to regard Josiah as one of Judah‘s best kings.

Josiah didn’t follow his evil father, Amon. He didn’t follow his wicked but repentant grandfather, Manasseh. He became his own man and followed the example of his ancestor king David – the greatest king of all Israel. Lord, the sentry is reminded that every man makes his own choice to follow God. The key to spiritual leadership is following godly examples and striving to do what is right.