Live life in a godly manner; faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus (1Ti 3:14-16). #GodsPlanInANutshell #TheGospelOfRedemption
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
In this letter to Timothy, Paul outlines how the family of God, the household of faith (the Church) should conduct itself. He calls the Church the “pillar and foundation of the truth,” the gospel. That is, God became man in the flesh [Jesus] (John 1:1,2). He died to forgive the sins of men and was raised from the dead by the Spirit (Acts 2:22-24).
This Jesus was exalted before the heavenly hosts (Phi 2:9; Heb 1:6). His gospel was/is preached to the nations (Col 1:23) and believed for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Then Jesus ascended back into heaven in glory (Eph 4:9,10). This is God’s redemptive plan in a nutshell. Lord, may I live my life in a godly manner and faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus.
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 an instrument of God’s grace to others (1Ti 1:12-17). #HateSinLoveTheSinner #NoGreaterLove
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Rather than stand in judgment of all the sins of others (vv9–10), Paul acknowledges that he himself is a sinner, mercifully saved by God’s grace. Rather than stand in judgment of other people, Paul acknowledges that the grace and mercy of God toward him fills him with faith and love for others.
Through the eyes of Jesus Christ Paul can say that all, even he, have fallen way short of God’s glory (can’t live up to the law). But all men are eligible for the grace of God. Like Paul, It is NOT my job to stand in judgment of others. The law does that. It is my job to be an instrument of God’s love and grace towards others. It is my honor Lord, to be your instrument.
Believe Christ came to free men from the law of sin and death (1Ti 1:8-11). #BELIEVE
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Paul refutes the self proclaimed “teachers“ in Ephesus who were mixing grace and the law of Moses. He explains that “the law is good…when used [applied] correctly.“ The law was not given as a list of rules to keep (Gal 5:1) – if you’re 100% righteous you don’t need the law. But who is that righteous? No one! (Rom 3:10)
The law condemns the lawbreaker (note 1Ti 1:9,10). The law is judge, jury and executioner of every man. The law was given to expose man’s sin, that which is rebellious towards God (Gal 3:19). Sin is an attitude of the heart that rebels against God. Lord, your law has taught me that I am hopelessly lost and condemned without the grace of Christ.
Stay True to the gospel message and alert to those who dilute it (1Ti 1:7). #TheTruthShallSetYouFree
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
There were those in the church at Ephesus (Jewish converts) who troubled the heart of the innocent. They were introducing that element of the law of Moses that held people in bondage to the law. They supposed, pridefully, that they would be the keepers of tradition in the Jewish faith. They consider themselves purists and were mixing the law and grace.
But this teaching was abhorrent to the gospel message. As Paul will point out to Timothy, they, “the teachers“, had no understanding at all about the purpose of the law. Lord, may I always “test the spirit” of what I am being taught (1Jhn 4:1). Does it line up with God‘s word?
May you clearly understand the warnings of God’s Word (Isa 66:22-24). #LastWords
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
I am closing out my Morning Watch in the book of Isaiah. I am certain that I have not understood every nuance of the prophet’s utterances. I pray that by the Spirit, I have caught the essence and urgency of the message. I’m indebted to Barnes’ Notes on Isaiah for help along the way.
The last verses in this book complete and describe, in dramatic fashion, the great divide between all of humanity (the faithful and the rebellious). Isaiah foresees a future when all the world, the faithful of every nation, will regularly observe a Sabbath (4th Commandment – Exo 20:8) genuinely worshiping the redeemer God.
As the faithful are departing worship they shall see the dead bodies and smell the putrid rotting flesh of every foe that has stood against God and his people. An abhorrent vision, abhorrent close, to this book in the Bible. It should cause every soul to consider the warnings of a holy, but loving, God and turn towards him in repentance, surrender and obedience.
Lord, the details of this prophetic book have caused even this aged sentry to think far more deeply on the things God has to say to me; yea, even to the world.
Comprehend God’s animus towards sin, but love for the sinner (Isa 66:18,19a). #GodHatesSinButLovesTheSinner #GodWillJudgeSin #RepentReturnToGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Isaiah makes it clear that, though God’s enemies (disobedient ones) go hiding to commit their sacrilege in private places (17), he sees their sin. He knows clearly who they are, where they are and what they are doing (men love [their private] darkness rather than light for their deeds are evil (see John 3:16-21). Nothing escapes God’s knowledge (Luk 12:2; Heb 4:13).
Isaiah also alludes to a future time (not clear when) that God will hold to account and destroy all his enemies. Every nation will be brought together to see collectively this manifestation of God’s glory and the absolute deliverance of those devoted to him. Lord, you have known my every weakness, sin and failure. Yet, by grace, you loved this old sentry and accepted him in Christ the beloved (Eph 1:6).
Understand God’s Word as Good News not bad news (Isa 64:5-7). #GreatestLoveStoryEverTold #GodLovesYou
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Isaiah 64:1-5a extols God‘s goodness and awesome deeds. Then in verses 5b–7 we hear that God is angry with us – what horrible sinners we all are. Yet, surprisingly, “No one calls upon God for help or mercy. So God simply allows our sin to run its course in our lives.“
Why is it that we only hear the bad news, “God is angry,“ and fail to hear the Good News, “God is full of mercy?“ The country song troubadour sings, “I just want to read Bible verses and not the Bible versus me.“
The mournful troubadour only hears the Law and knows he can’t measure up. But he keeps trying. He does not hear and know how God loves him and died for his sin. It is not the Bible vs. Me. It is Sin vs. Me (Titus 3:11). “God did not come to condemn the world but to save it (Jhn 3:16,17).
Yes, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). “But,” Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Father, I want the world to see your love, mercy and grace through me. There is hope for the country troubadour.
Never lose sight of God in your life (Isa 63:15-19). #VisionOfGod #GodInOurSights
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Our sin and rebellion toward God comes at a price. To grieve his Holy Spirit (v10) comes at a price. God‘s presence in our lives is withdrawn, having the effect on the wandering soul as to feeling cut off from God. God allows us, in his providence, to drift off the chosen path (v17).
We become blind to God‘s goodness. We wonder how we could ever have even belonged to him or been known by him. But many there are (I am one) who break through the darkness, remember the God of our youth (v16) and cry out to him for deliverance (v17). Thank you Lord, you never lost sight of me though I, for a season, lost sight of you.
Remain dedicated always to God (Isa 63:7–10). #HandInTheCookieJar #SinWillFindYouOut #CantFoolGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
God’s people – so prone to wander, rebel and commit grievous acts against his Holy Spirit. Israel did this, in spite of God‘s great love and mercy. The church in America and elsewhere, has done the same. I myself have wandered, rebelled and committed grievous things against the Spirit of God. In my best moments I am capable of sin against God.
God has no choice but to become an adversary to Israel, the church, to me. God’s people often act like foolish children. They think they can snatch a cookie and God won’t notice (NOT!). Hence, God‘s hand of discipline will come against the erring child. His purpose? In love, to correct and instruct. Lord, thank you that you never give up on this old sentry. You won’t give up on America either.
Isaiah says that when God‘s people leave the gates of exile in Babylon they will know a new security and God‘s protection. Such security promotes peace, prosperity, praise and thanksgiving. So raise the banner of God high over the land – look, the Savior is coming! He brings his reward of Redemption.
To the church age and beyond, into the millennial reign of Christ, the people of God will be known as his people – a people redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (1Pe 2:9; Rev 22:12). Lord, on this Thanksgiving Day, I lift my heart and hands to you in praise for your great love and redemption.
Be for sure certain your name’s written in the Lamb’s book of forever life (Isa 62:2-4; Rev 2:17; 21:2). #EternalLife #NewNameWrittenDownInGlory #TheLambsBookOfLife
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
In Isaiah‘s prayer, it is revealed to Israel (and to every other nation) that once she has entered into the light of God‘s righteousness, she will get a “new name.” No longer will she be known as “Forsaken“ and “Desolate.” Her new name will be “God’s Delight, God’s Bride (intimate companion“ (see also Isa 56:5).
As it was and is for Israel, so shall it be for the Church Age. The Apostle John tells us that all who come into the righteousness of Christ will receive a “New Name” (Rev 2:17). That name is written in the Lamb’s book of forever life (Rev 21:27). Lord, how awesome it is for the faithful sentry to know that his/her name, “New Name,” is written down into the records of glory.
O that you be filled with the rapturous joy of the salvation of the Lord (Isa 61:8-11). #JoyFillsMySoul
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
God takes no joy in having disciplined his people for their sin; using the evil intent of a foreign nation to that end. He hates the evil and will deal justly with those who perpetrate such sin. He will ultimately vindicate his people; deliver, bless and honor them. The prophet, having seen ahead to such deliverance, is beside himself with rapturous joy.
So ought the believer in Christ Jesus be full of ecstasy and joy…like bride and groom on their wedding Day, clothed in elegant garments of praise and righteousness, bedecked with jewel and diadem. What rapturous joy doth spring up everywhere at the salvation of our Redeemer. I am reminded of the hope-filled words of the old gospel hymn:
“There’s a light in the valley Of death now for me, Since Jesus came into my heart! And the gates of the city Beyond I can see, Since Jesus came into my heart!
Floods of joy ‘oer my soul like sea billows roll, since Jesus came into my heart.“
Isaiah 61:7 summarizes verses 3–6. It expresses a marvelous exchange of joy for shame and dishonor, a double portion of joy at that. In context the nation of Israel will be delivered from Babylonian captivity and find herself immeasurably blessed among the nations.
But the prophetic future here describes a spiritual Israel, life in the kingdom of God. The Messiah, Jesus Christ (described in vv 1,2; see Luk 4:18-22) will deliver beauty for ashes, blessing for mourning and praise for despair. Lives will be rebuilt, remade, in the righteousness of Christ (note 2Co 5:21).
Lord, thank you for the precious treasure of Christ’s righteousness given the duty sentries, in exchange for our sin and shame.
Somewhere around 650 BC Isaiah penned this prophecy. 700 years later a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth, named Jesus, stood and read these words in temple worship…
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him“ (Luk 4:18f).
In the middle of verse two he stopped and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing“ (Luk 4:21). Everything about that day in worship was normal until Jesus stopped here and laid claim to these verses for himself as the Anointed One, the Messiah of Israel.
Nothing would ever be the same again. Not the for Jesus, not for the nation of Israel nor the rest of mankind. History was at a pivot point. Three years later Jesus would die on a Roman cross to forgive the sins of mankind and open the door to eternal life. Lord, my faith and belief in you is affirmed. I will follow you to the end as the faithful fulfillment of this prophecy.
Judah is getting her day in court. God lays out his case for unfaithfulness and consequently her 70 years of captivity in Babylon. The church today would do well to pay attention to charges brought against Judah.
The church is not exempt from phony piety, prideful and self-indulgent leaders (56:9-12), unholy alliances with strange gods, and unfaithfulness to God (57:3-8), oppression of the weak, narcissism (58:3), infighting/bickering (58:4), et al.
Yet, in all this rebellion and unfaithfulness, God stands ready to forgive at the first sign of genuine repentance toward him (57:18–21). Lord, search my wayward heart; show me any unfaithfulness to you; lead me according to your ways.
Who could grasp the inexplicable ways in which God thinks and acts. We may never understand the “why” or the “ways” in which God acts, on this side of eternity. But we are able to see “how” he acts and “what” he does. He has fully explained himself (all we need to know) in Christ Jesus.
Men find it hard, if not impossible, to forgive…to pardon the offenses of others. The multiplied number of offenses and the degree of offenses converge to make forgiveness impossible for all, all the time. But in God, men can find unlimited pardon. There is still time to humble ourselves and repent. Lord, give this crusty old sentry a humble repentance towards you, your will and your purposes.
For any who would take a solemn pause in their life of sin and rebellion; for those who would resolve to leave a life of sin and return to God, there is full pardon. True repentance will invoke the forgiveness of God.
Imagine a call to inmates in prison – “If you would like a pardon, please see the warden in his office now.“ What inmate would ignore such an invitation? None! The invitation from God has been made. Come now for forgiveness of sin. Lord, thank you for your pardon of my sins and transgressions. I am set free.
Isaiah Chapter 55 flows from Redemption‘s story (Ch 53) through the assurances of Redemption‘s victory (Ch 54) and into a grand and glorious invitation to Redemption‘s offer of God’s free gift of life everlasting (Ch 55). Isaiah says, “Anyone thirsty? Come drink freely. Are you hungry? The finest food is available, free.”
Jesus probably had these verses in mind when he said, “and from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water (Jhn 7:37,38).“ John the Apostle writes from exile, “He [who sits on the throne] said, ‘I will give water of life to the thirsty…freely’“ (Rev 21:6). So The thirsty soul may drink long and often from the well of perpetual life giving water (Jhn 4:13,14). Lord, there could be no clearer invitation in the Old Testament for this thirsty sentry to bring his unquenchable thirst/hunger to you. You will not fail to abundantly satisfy.
It is true that Jehovah God briefly turned his back on Israel because of her unfaithfulness (vv7,8). But this brief moment is in contrast to his promise of everlasting love and mercy (vv9,10).
This is the solemn promise of God: he would never again turn his back on his people. They would see the grander of great mountains dissolve before their eyes (see pigs fly) before God would ever again turn on his people.
As it has been for Israel, so it is for his church. Persecution, calamity and troubles may come. But God’s fierce love and devotion for his people will never be, shall never be, derailed nor gone missing. Lord, you have never forsaken this elder sentry; been forever faithful to me.
Who is this loving overseer of Israel’s destiny? He is none other than the creator of all things, the Lord of Hosts is his name. He is Israel’s great provider and lover, the holy one of Israel and God of all the earth. He was the one who authored Israel’s genesis. He called her back to him
This is the same God who calls us back from our unfaithfulness, just as he called Israel, with compassion and tender mercies. With an everlasting love he compels a response of adoration, honor and respect. Lord you have loved me at my worst. My sincere humble obeisance is the least gift I can give.
The prophecy of Isaiah 53 continues here to describe the oppressive and unrighteous nature of the Redeemer’s shameful treatment and trial. Yet, this Redeemer, under great duress, said not a word of complaint. He surrendered as a lamb led to the slaughter, as a sheep before his shearers. He saw it through to the end.
The debt of sin, death, was called in. The Redeemer patiently, meekly and quietly suffered oppressive treatment and the unrighteous proceedings of incited leaders and an angry mob. He was charged for acts he never committed. He was cut down, sharply canceled out, before ever he might have a single heir in this earth (v10 informs us that he would ultimately have many spiritual heirs). For the sins of the people this righteous man, we now know as Jesus, The Christ, was struck down violently and suffered in our place.
The Redeemer, falsely accused, died a criminal’s death. The Jews would have buried him dishonorably along with the two thieves or the malevolent but sparred Barabbas. However, the Romans handed his body over to Joseph, the Aramathaean – a “rich man.” Why? Because according to the Scriptures, “His actions were [truly] prompted by pure love and his speech consisted of unclouded sincerity and truth.“* This honorable burial would inaugurate his glorification to come, noted in v10,12.
Barnes assesses this passage beautifully: “How strikingly and literally was this [prophecy] fulfilled in the life of [Christ]. It would seem almost as if it had been written after he had lived, and was history rather than prophecy. No other person ever so entirely accorded with the description of [Christ] by the prophet.“**
O how great is the enormity of this old sentry’s sin. How sufficient is the wonderful matchless grace of my Redeemer-Prince (Jesus the Messiah). He forgave all my sin and gave me life eternal. All he asks in return is that men would “believe the message” and trust in him (v1). The way I thank him and honor him is by believing and following him.
When I think of my fallen self and how desperately wicked can be my heart, I think of my risen Savior who has borne my sin and shame and redeemed me to himself.
The sin, which does so easily beset me, has its end in the cross of Calvary. It drives afresh the nails into my Savior’s hands and feet. My besetting sins do not go unaccounted for. These…
…my sins of commission – to lie, to lust, to speak ill/criticize, to waste time;
…my sins of omission – to disobey by not going when moved, not speaking when prompted, not helping when urged;
…my sins of disposition – envy, pride, anger, evil desire;
All these my sins, and more, go painfully under the shed blood of Jesus on the cross.
My unmerited righteousness in Christ does not come without a price. I cannot flee the failure of sins committed, but I can, in Christ, flee from the sin not yet committed before it besets me. AND EVERY SIN FROM WHICH I FLEE IS THAT MUCH PAIN RELIEVED IN MY SAVIOR’S BODY. FOR EVERY SIN RESISTED IS A SIN FOR WHICH HE DID NOT HAVE TO DIE.
Where sin has abounded in my heart without confession, my precious Savior is left to suffer. For lack of confession is unbelief in his atoning sacrifice, his faithfulness to forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9). My confession acknowledges and accepts his sacrifice.
If he did not want to forgive us he would not have died so horrible a death. So believe. Do not carry your burden of sin. He has borne it.
Confess it and do not mourn any longer. You are forgiven and accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:6).
(Note: the following is from Valley Of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers)
“…if I sin not I should thank thee for it;
“…if I do sin I should be humbled daily under it;
“…I should mourn for sin more than other men do, for when I see I shall die because of sin, that makes me mourn; when I see how sin strikes at thee, that makes me mourn; when I see that sin caused Christ’s death, that makes me mourn;”
“…Thou has taught me that faith is nothing else than receiving thy kindness; that it is an adherence to Christ, a resting on him, a love clinging to him as a branch to the tree, to seek life and vigor from him.” [To mourn no longer]
“…I thank thee for showing me the vast difference between knowing things by reason, and knowing them by the spirit of faith. [Job 42:5,6]
“…By reason I see a thing is so; by faith I know it is.
“…I have seen thee by reason [head knowledge] and have not been amazed.
“…I have seen thee as thou are in the Son [by faith] and HAVE BEEN RAVISHED TO BEHOLD THEE…
“…I bless thee that I am thine in my Savior, Jesus.” [Mourn no longer]
The painful reality is that our Redeemer-prince, who is here spoken of, suffered excruciatingly for our sin. He was treated as lower than the lowest in society. He took upon himself the grief and agonies of men. He was our substitute. Men interpreted his calamities as punishment for his own sin. But, NO! It was for our sin, my sin, that he took such punishment.
Jesus was my substitute. He was crushed for my sins, whipped so I could be healed (made whole). It was I for whom my Savior bled and died. He was my substitute. The Lord – God laid upon him all the sins of every man, past and present. He was my substitute; the sinless servant suffered punishment for my sin. No other could have stood in for me and borne the penalty for my sin? No one! Lord, may the love and devotion of this old sentry for you, deepen with every passing day.