Remain clear-eyed in your intentions for speaking truth and doing ministry (2Ti 4:3-5) #CleareyedIntentions #SpeakTruth #DoWhatGodCalledYouToDo
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
The Apostle Paul continues with the idea of standing “ready“ with good teaching from God’s Word and telling others the “Good News“ of the Gospel. Times will deteriorate and people will no longer want to listen to good teaching. They will simply want to satisfy their own pleasures and seek out teachers who will tell them what they want to hear.
Further, people will reject the truth in favor of myths (fables and superstitions) that excite them. So Paul says to the Christian, stay clear-eyed about the Gospel of Jesus and do not fear even suffering for the cause of the Gospel. Just keep doing the ministry to which God called you.
Lord, the eyes of this aging sentry grow dimmer with every passing year. But my focus on what you have called me to do has never been more clear.
Put your full trust in the reliability of God’s Word (2Ti 3:15-17). #WORD #TrustGodsWord #GodsWordEqualsGodsVoice
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
The Bible is an amazing book. It was written by 66 authors over hundreds of years. It’s reliability has been proven over and over again. It is the written record of God’s whole plan of redemption.
God speaks to us through his word. It is good for teaching and understanding truth. It shows us how to live right and do right. It shows us where we are wrong, corrects us. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read God’s word out loud. Reading God‘s word is an encounter with the living God. Lord, thank you for the reliability of your to man.
Be on the alert for those who misrepresent God’s truth (2Ti 3:6–9). #BeVigilantForTruth #FaithWatch
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
“In the last days.” Men will deceitfully contrive and deliberately attempt to mislead vulnerable people into all manner of sin and dispute the truth of God’s word. But such men of depraved minds and counterfeit faith will ultimately be exposed for the imposters that they are.
Just as Moses defeated the magicians in the court of pharaoh (Exo 7:11,12; 8:18,19), so shall deceitful men and imposters of the faith be undone, vanquished. Will I be undiscerning and gullible? Will I be alert and vigilant regarding the truth of God’s word? Lord, may your duty sentry always be alert and on guard for imposters.
Have courage to stand for the Good News, Jesus Saves (1Ti 1:8-10). #JesusSaves #Ain’tThatGoodNews #TheWarIsOver
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Be ready to suffer for the sake of the gospel. Leading a life separated by heart and virtue from the practices of the world, the flesh and the Devil will put a target on your back. But a life in Christ was God‘s plan for all who believe.
In Christ we shall have the ultimate victory over sin, the world, the evil one and even death itself. THE WAR IS OVER! For the resurrection of Christ is the down payment of life eternal for all who believe. It was all God’s plan. Like that old Negro spiritual says, “Ain’t-a That Good News!”
Remain faithfully engaged in living life and honoring God (1Ti 5:11–15). #ServeOthers #ServeGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Paul’s advice to young widows here is not heartless or impervious to their need. Rather it is a practical matter. For younger widows ought to consider remarriage, bearing children and being gainfully engaged with life. Assistance by the church could lead to idleness and sin (which it had already done – v15). So this is good advice to younger widows…good advice to anyone.
Too much idle time can lead to harmful things. So, throw yourself into engagement with life. Don’t sit around idol, getting into everyone else’s business. Give yourself to serving others and serving God. Lord, whatever my lot in life may be, may I use my life to the fullest to engage with living and in honoring you.
Be respectful of God’s design for gender roles (1Ti 2:13,14). #RespectGod’sPlan #RespectOneAnother
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Paul is seeking to instruct Timothy on the importance of maintaining the balance of God’s design between men and women. Both men and women play an important part in church life. It is neither becoming of a woman to try and seize power over men, nor is it becoming of men to abdicate their responsibilities.**
It is perhaps the case here that due to the cultural influence of the “Great Diana,“ a female goddess so highly esteemed in Ephesus*, that men had abdicated their role in God’s design. The balance in leadership for the Ephesian church was out of sync with that design. Paul seeks to not elevate one gender over another saying, women are inferior creatures. Nor is Paul absolving man from his part in original sin (Rom 5:12,17).
Father, may this weathered sentry be respectful of my female counterparts (their gifts & talents); may I be responsible in fulfilling my part in those relationships. May the reverse be true.
** I commend the interpretation I have taken here to the great light the Holy Spirit sheds on scripture. It is my earnest prayer that God’s grace and mercy would pardon any erroneous understanding on my part. I remain open to his teaching.
Give thanks to God for including all men in his great Redemption (1Ti 2:1,3-6). #WhosoeverWillMayCome
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
If one were the sovereign of a perfect kingdom and could choose one’s own kingdom people, who might that one choose? Would one choose only people like one’s self? One might be highly selective. But God is not like that. He includes everyone of us (even a wretch like me). He excludes no one in his call to come. In fact, he tells us to pray for “ALL“ men to understand this truth and enter into his kingdom (Romans 10:13 says, “Whosoever will may come”).
One may say, “Well, I don’t like God. He condemns my sin, says I will suffer consequences for my sin.“ Yes, but he is also our mediator and he has reconciled all humanity to him by Christ’s death on the cross. He suffered our consequences and purchased our freedom to choose him and his kingdom. All may come to him. We may exclude ourselves, but he excludes no one. This is the message, GOD’S GIFT to the world (Rom 6:23). Thank you Lord, for including me (not excluding me) in your kingdom.
Be true to your conscience and be strong in your faith (1Ti 1:18–19). #ListenToYourConscience #HoldFastToFaith #FightTheGoodFightOfFaith
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
It is especially important that pastors, like Timothy, hold fast to faith in Christ and keep a clear conscience. Being obedient to the things you know are right, avoiding things you know are wrong, will strengthen your faith and equip you to fight the good fight of faith. Very simple, basic instructions.
Do not violate your conscience. To do so is to doom your faith to failure. Of course, this is good advice for anyone to follow, not just pastors. Pray that your church leaders be true to their conscience and strong in their faith. This is the fight they need to win. Lord, may I too, be true to my conscience and strong in my faith.
Stay focused on the truth of God’s word and a life devoted to him (1Ti 1:3-7). #Distractions #ChasingRabbits
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
The Apostle Paul writes this personal letter to a young man, his protégé, Timothy, pastor of the church in Ephesus (vv1,2). Foremost on Paul’s mind (speaking fatherly advice to anyone with authority) is that Timothy not be distracted by those who promote trivial controversies. These are folks who would rather chase rabbits than do something constructive.
Instead, the task is to lead God’s people (family, associates, etc), by teaching and example, to be filled with love. That can only happen if they are led to have a pure heart (humble and compassionate), a clear conscience (be right with God and man) and to live a genuine faith (undiluted trust in the truthfulness of God for life and practice).
Lord, prevent the sentry on duty from being distracted from the truth of the gospel and living a life devoted to you.
Put your faith in Jehovah God who is sovereign over all destiny (Isa 65 12–16). #NoKarmaHere #ChooseTheGodOfAllDestiny
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
God’s people had forsaken God for another path, looking for some out of reach “destiny“ (v11) – the perfect high, the perfect relationship, the perfect job, the perfect education and the like. They put their faith in things that never satisfy. But God is the source of all true destiny (v12). He alone delivers on true meaning in life.
Serving God is to eat of the food of genuine life, to quench our thirst for real meaning; it means to express a spirit of joy and singing, to be a blessing to others and to desire living in truth and living for God. Otherwise our destiny, according to God, will be fraught with meaninglessness, grief and despair. Choosing God as the Lord of all destiny is the clear choice. I reject any idea of “karma” as a path to meaning in life. I choose Jehovah God as sovereign Lord of my destiny.
Humbly, earnestly, seek God quickly for his help (Isa 65:1–5). #SeekGodEarly #NoTimeLikeNowToSeekGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Isaiah 65:1 answers the questions asked in the last verse of Chapter 64. “Lord, will you continue ignoring us? Will you keep on being silent and punishing us?“ The answer – God says, “I was [and always am] ready to respond…was [and am] ready to be found, B U T no one asked me for help nor went looking for me.“
So many Scriptures tell us that if we seek God, call out to him, he WILL be found (e.g.: Isa 55:6; Psm 34:4-6; Pro 8:17; 2Ch 15:2b; Jer 29:12-14). In Isa 65:3-5 God says, “All day I stand ready, arms wide open to those who will seek me. But…“ The problem? Man is too rebellious, arrogant, selfish and self-righteous (see also Jas 3:1-3). Lord, may it not be said of me that I was too arrogant and rebellious to stop and earnestly seek you for help.
The watchmen posted by God are to do their job of instructing the people; expressing God’s will in praise, thanksgiving, encouragement and warning. Silence is not an option. One role of the watchmen was to be a continual reminder to the people of the Lord God, so they might not forget God.
The voices of the watchmen, then and today (prophets, teachers and ministers of the most high God), were to be continually engaged with public prayer, praise and instruction. No silent sentries. Lord, this is my job: to speak FOR you into the lives of others and to speak TO you for the same.
For an expanded reading on the role of Watchmen and Women see these links in my blog:
O, how the prophet Isaiah prays over God‘s people. He is concerned with more than just condemning their sin. He faithfully roams the hallowed halls of heaven in petition to his God for Israel‘s righteousness and her salvation. He pleads for her commitment to God.
Not only does Isaiah see Israel‘s future and far into the church age, he prays “God‘s will on earth as it is in heaven.” God has called believers into partnership with him. He reveals his will, then we Pray Until Something Happens (P.U.S.H.). Oh Lord, I am renewed in my commitment to intercession. You hear and respond (Psm 145:18,19).
The nation of Judah faces 70 years of captivity for her sins and her rejection of God. She will feel the full fury of her God. Her sin will lead her to absolute desolation and famine, destruction and war. Those in her midst who guide and comfort her will be exposed as frauds, leaving her devoid of help.
But in the end, her God will defend and deliver her. In repentance she will again find joy in her God and know peace. God will then turn his fury on her arrogant oppressor and trample them into the dust. I understand that it is never a good day to be a disobedient child; never a good day to be the instrument of chastisement in God’s hands. Lord, soften the hearts of your sentries towards you and towards others.
Isaiah 40–48 is concerned with the future hope of Israel being restored by the Persian king, Cyrus; after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Isaiah 49–55 is concerned with the future hope of all men in the coming Redeemer-shepherd: Christ, the Messiah.
Here God reminds all Israel, #1) their calamity was not due to the caprice hand of God. No. It was, #2) due to their own sin. They sold themselves into slavery. #3) in their captivity to come Israel will ask, “Where is our God? Has he no power to save?“ God answers, “Oh, I have the power, but not the will to save. I see Lord, that my disobedience will lead to my discipline, my judgment, without remedy. Until you are ready save.
Lord, may the heart of the sentry stay surrendered to you.
Verses 6 & 7 bears the mention of one further thought. Jehovah here reveals the importance of the Redeemer’s task. The restoration of the people of God back into relationship with him as paramount. But it was a small thing compared to being the light to all men.
It was far more important that the message of Redemption be spread to the ends of the earth. (Note Mat 28:19,20; Acts 1:8). It is to this end that believers in Christ are commissioned, called, to “Go and make disciples.” Lord, there could be no higher calling than to be a witness to others of the redemption story of Christ.*
Jesus, my redeemer–friend, wonders in his humanity at the outcome of his earthly work and ministry, as perhaps ineffective. (He also stopped and prayed three times over the certainty of God’s plan in the garden before his crucifixion – Mat 26:36-47.) He has no hesitation in trusting his life’s work into the hands of Jehovah God (v4). Isaiah 49:5-7 explains why.
Our Redeemer is confident in the source, strength and certainty of his life call and work (v5).
He is assured that nothing he did on earth will be lost. It will ultimately be used to point ALL men to God (v6).
Finally, he is assured that “rejection,“ or apparent failure, is not the measure of success in God’s eyes. God is faithful (v7 & 25:1).
Lord, I can learn lessons from Jesus in trusting you completely with the outcomes of the work to which you call me.
I have often wondered at the success of my call and work when everything around it may seem to have failed – at least according to the measure of men; when things fell short of my expectations. Well, here I learn that my friend and Redeemer – Jesus, felt the same way about his ministry. He says, “To what purpose have I come Lord? My work seems useless. But, I leave it in your hands Lord, Jehovah.“
Jesus’ mission, ending in a criminal crucifixion, may have seemed like a failure by men’s standards. However, Jehovah God was/is pleased with Christ’s work. But for a much different reason. His work would ultimately bring salvation to all men. Lord, my acceptance with you is based on the finished work of Christ on the cross and my faithfulness to your call on my life.
If you need me Lord, I’ll be here at my sentinel’s post as ordered.
Every now and then one has to stop and take stock of all God is doing; take into account the bigger picture. It enables the prayer sentry to pray with understanding. I had one of those days yesterday. Here is what God showed me.
The story of Israel, the Jewish race, is the story God’s redemption. God chose to reveal himself to mankind through the Jewish race. They would be the chosen seed, the chosen light pointing men to God. However, they failed to do that as a people. They were persistently disobedient and rebellious toward God. Yet, God seems somehow to always be the protective father, letting his favored child continue in disobedience. Why does God continually protect them? I find myself wondering, “Why does God seem to always put up with Israel’s waywardness and incorrigibility?” “Why did he choose them?”
The Old Testament reveals that God does discipline his chosen people throughout the course of their national life. But Israel, as a whole, never seems to get it. They just seem to be a constant disappointment to God. At one point God does seems willing to start over. But then Moses steps in to protect them. He asks God not to destroy Israel completely and God relents (Exodus 32:1-14).
The questions to me seem to be: why did God choose Israel? Would there not have been another people group who would have shown themselves to be more faithful? The answer to that questions is, “Probably not.” Why did God find it necessary to choose some outlying race of people anyway?
Certainly, greater minds than mine have pondered these questions for, no doubt, ages. But here is my simple and feeble assessment. I think the answer to why God chose Israel, the Jewish race, as his chosen people, lies in the omniscient plan, character and love of God. In the beginning God set out to redeem mankind from their fall into sin. God’s omniscient plan called for a Redeemer and a sacrifice for sin. This is seen in the first blood sacrifice of an animal out of the Garden of Eden. God performed the first sacrifice. Instead of killing Adam for his sin (for the wages of sin is death-Rom 6:23), God took the life of an animal (shed its blood as a substitute, propitiation for sin) and used the skin as a “covering” for Adam and Eve. Thus, God covered the sin of man (Gen 3:21).
Back to the nation of Israel. God didn’t choose the Jewish people because of their superior moral character or their religious devotion. In fact, God never chooses any of us because we are so righteous or so good. In fact, to the contrary, Scripture says there is no one righteous, not one (Rom 3:10). But I digress.
The Jewish race was chosen because God is sovereign not because they were superior. He could have chosen any people group. Through this chosen seed, God would institute and implement symbols of worship, sacrifice and redemption. This structure in the Jewish sacrificial system would be, has been and is, sufficient to forecast or foretell God’s Redeemer and the sacrifice for sin. This sacrifice would be the ground of redemption for all who would believe.
Israel was and is no different from any other people group. They were, we all are, sinners. But what God needed was a human ancestry, a lineage, a seed from which a Redeemer-sacrifice would emerge, from which his GRACE would extend to all men. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was that Redeemer–sacrifice. Jesus would be the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption. He would be God’s sacrifice, God’s instrument of GRACE to all men for their sin. The Jewish nation was selected by the sovereign plan of God to bear witness to and be the seed and instrumentality of that redemption. She was not selected not because she was perfect but because God is sovereign.
Further, God chose the Jewish race knowing full well in advance that they would be prideful, disobedient, obstinate, stiff-necked, rebellious and hard hearted. God knew in advance that this people would break his heart over and over again. God would discipline and or punish their sinful rebellion, but he would not completely destroy the ancestry, the lineage, the seed from which his Redeemer would eventually emerge. In fact, God would go to extravagant lengths to protect his people…even if it was only a small remnant.
So, the story and history of God’s chosen people is really the story of all men. Just as God showed mercy and grace to a sinful, stubborn and rebellious people of Israel, so he shows mercy and grace to all people. The story of God’s longsuffering with me is reflected in the story of God’s longsuffering with Israel. They deserved nothing. He gave them everything. So, it is with me as well.
All men everywhere are indebted. Not indebted to the Jewish race, but to God, for choosing a people (a people like me, no different from me) to reveal his Redeemer, Jesus Christ. There were no perfect people from which to choose. There are still no perfect people. Never has been. What we do have is a perfect Redeemer, Jesus Christ, whom God was pleased to sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. Just as Israel was chosen by GRACE, sustained by GRACE and saved by GRACE, so we to are chosen, sustained and saved by GRACE.
There are none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10).
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).
But God demonstrates is own love for us, in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).
Next time you think that God is unfairly and forever longsuffering with the Jewish race, his seed of redemption, think about how longsuffering he has been and is with you as well. So we should be towards others.
Isaiah chapter 48 could be summarized, “You did not listen.“ A theme that is repeated often in God’s word is “listen” to what God is saying. That is not the same thing as hearing. I may hear my father speak, but not “listen.” To listen implies understanding, acknowledging and obeying. If you hear an authority figure give an instruction and you say, “Whatever!“, then you’re not “listening.”
Israel’s problem was she was not “listening” to God; she was like, “Whatever!” The result was devastating – 430 years in Egyptian captivity, 70 years in Babylonian captivity. Had Israel listened and obeyed, verses 18,19 say much grief would have been avoided. Father God, give this sentry a heart to listen and the determination to carry out your instructions. Yes Lord! “Hooah!” *
* According to Stars & Stripes (military news paper) – “HOOAH” (or “huah”) is unique to the Army [“OORAH” – Marines]. Some say it stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.” It is shouted by a troop following an order given. It expresses determination to act as ordered. It expresses the Army spirit. (See also Jan 8, 2021 post, “HOOAH!”, this blog)
Men with fleshly attitudes will always rail against God’s plans. It is true from time immemorial. Man stood in opposition to God in the garden and in the days of the Kings of Israel. They stood against Christ in his birth and in his life. They stood against the spread of the Gospel. They have stood, times without number, against revivals led by the Holy Spirit. How’d all that work out?
Men of the flesh act like clay in the potter’s hands telling the potter, “You don’t know what you are doing. Your hands have no skill.“ No matter, God continues his program of mercy and Redemption. There will be no refuting God’s work among men. Those who refute God will be dishonored. “The Lord of Heaven‘s Armies has spoken!“ Lord you are my Creator, my Deliverer, my redeemer. Mold my life according to your will – I yield to your skilled hands.
“I [God] create good times and bad times.” Am I to understand here that God is the author of evil in the moral sense of sin? No! No! No! This statement is made in relation to the providences of God. He raises up prosperity, peace, pure religion and the like. He also calls forth adversity, calamity, ignorance, et all…but not evil, in the moral sense of sin. He gives us light. Darkness ensues because the light is withdrawn.*
When God withdraws his hand, bad things happen. But when God puts his hand of blessing on something (as here with Cyrus) good things happen. God’s point here is his complete and absolute superiority over all the things in heaven and on earth. He providentially works in the affairs of men. This is as true today as it was in the days of Cyrus.*
America may not want to hear this, but God says, “[I am he who] builds up nations, and [I am he who] destroys them. [I am he who] expands nations, and [I am he who] abandons them” (Job 12:23 NLT – see vv 13-24 for context https://bible.com/bible/116/job.12.13-24.NLT).
Lord put it into the heart of every prayer sentry to seek truth and learn from you in the good times and in the bad times. May every sentry standing on the wall speak with conviction and with compassion. May your Spirit not be withdrawn from our midst.
Here is seen one of God’s most incredible prophetic accounts. God declares through Isaiah, by name, that “Cyrus,“ the Persian, shall be God’s “shepherd“ king, “anointed one,” to deliver Israel out of Babylonian captivity.
Why so incredible? Because this prophecy was delivered by Isaiah 150 years before Cyrus was born. Further, he is the only pagan, Gentile king referred to by God as “anointed one.“ Cyrus is, in this sense, a type of the greater Anointed One, Redeemer of Israel and of all men, Jesus Christ. God chooses whom he chooses for his work of redemption. Lord, you alone are mighty to save. I put my trust in you.
Paul Clarifies what he expects as his deliverance, his vindication, as a result of prayers and God’s guidance (may be quoting Job 13:18). Paul’s earnest, eager, expectation* and hope (ignoring all other interests, straining to see beyond his circumstance) is not so much his release but that he unashamedly continues to exalt Christ.
Prayer is not about getting my own way. It’s about getting God’s way, worked out in life. For Paul, God’s will is accomplished whether he lives or whether he dies. Even Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but thy will be done“ (Mat 6:10; Luke 2:42). To live is Christ, to die is gain. One is as good as the other. Lord, may I not be so preoccupied with my circumstances that I preclude the glory of Christ.
* Martin, Ralph P., Philippians, Tyndale NT Comentary (1959), suggests this may have been a word coined by Paul himself.