Repent; turn to God and know his saving grace (Jer 4:11–18). #Repent #TurnNowToGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
The temporal, remedial, judgment of God is coming upon Judah and Jerusalem. Like a destroying desert wind – dry and hot – her enemies from the north will roar through Judah. Like billowing storm clouds rushing down upon its mark, so the chariots of the enemy will rush in on Judah.
Judah’s fate is however, in her hands. She can repent of her evil ways and be saved or she can continue in her rebellion against God and suffer the penalty of her sins. How shall the people of America (any nation) continue in sin and not suffer the consequences? Lord, turn the heart of my beloved nation back to you. May she know your saving grace.
Remain open to the plow of God’s Word (Jer 3:3,4). #PlowUpTheFallowGround #SurrenderYourPrideAndStrength
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Jeremiah is sending a clear message of warning to Judah and it’s capital city, Jerusalem. Bad habits and hidden sin has hardened their hearts. Their hearts have become like unplowed ground: hard, crusty and dry. No new seed is able to penetrate it. Jeremiah says, “Plow up the hard ground of your heart. Change your heart before God before it is too late.“
The people of Judah must, just as I must, rid themselves of bad habits and hidden sin. They must break up the crusty hard ground of their hearts in surrender of pride and strength to God. Then God can so new seed of joy and faithfulness. Lord, this old sentry is seeking you to break up any hard hearted way of mine. Renew my spirit.
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!
Come to God in humble worship (Zep 2:5–15). #EveryKneeShallBow #WorshipTheLord
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Final and swift judgment will also come upon all those who taunt God’s people. God will use the evil of those nations who hate God’s people (Israel) to discipline his people. But those nations will, “receive the [just] wages for their [sin] and pride, because they scoffed at God and his people” (v15).
There will be a day when the nations of the world will worship the Lord (v11). May the nations of the world bow down in repentance and worship the Lord even today. Lord, there is none who escape your view. All men will one day bow before you. May that day be sooner than later.
May we as a people and as a nation understand the depths of God‘s love for us (2Ch 33:11-13) #TheDepthsOfGod’sLove #NothingIsImpossibleForGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Because of King Manasseh’s deep dive into disobedience toward God and his extreme wickedness, he was taken prisoner, enslaved by Assyria and removed from Jerusalem. While in deep distress he was broken. He humbled himself before God and prayed a prayer of deep remorse.
The Lord listened to Manasseh and was deeply moved. He brought him back to Jerusalem and restored his kingdom. Manasseh finally understood that the Lord alone is God. Perhaps, in his deep distress, he recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord’s arm is not so weak that it cannot save and his ear is not so deaf that he cannot hear” (Isa 59:1).
Thank you Lord. You heard a young soldier’s cry of deep repentance in Vietnam, 50+ years ago. This old sentry was changed forever.
Surrender the best of yourself to bless others (2Ti 1:3–5). #BeABlessing #LiveASurrenderedLife
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Of whom could I say, “I thank God for you; night and day I pray for you; I want to see you again; I remember your tears as we parted – it will be my joy to see you again; I remember your genuine faith and heritage of faith, that continues strong in you“?
Better yet, could such sentiments be said of me? What kind of friend and encourager am I? What do I surrender of myself to others that is a blessing to them? Lord, what a beautiful challenge is mine to share; may I be a Timothy in the lives of others.
Paul begins closing his letter to Timothy, “Teach these things…encourage all to obey them.“ “These things” are found in Chapters 1:1–6:2: Understanding sound doctrine and modeling the Christian life, qualifications of church leaders and their responsibilities to lead and faithful ministry to and caring for the church family.
These are the wholesome/healthy (Gk word for hygiene), teachings of Christ. They are the pathway to godly living. I (and all men) am encouraged to obey and live by these words. Lord, your word gives me refreshing and cleansing words to live by each day.
Remind ministering deacons in the church of their sacred responsibility (1Ti 3:8-13). #MinistryServant #R-E-S-P-E-C-T
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Paul reveals the high bar of ministry servants, deacons, within the church. Like pastors and elders, these servants to the church body must be men of respect and integrity. They are to avoid strong drink and violence. They must be faithful to the precepts of faith in Christ and be men of a clear conscience.
Their spouses ought to be respected as well, and not those who spread rumors or gossip, but exercise self-control. These recognized servants are faithful husbands and dad’s. Their lives will reflect all of these things and be affirmed by the church body. Lord may I be ever mindful to pray for all of our church staff and the deacons who minister among us.
May women of God (and men) be teachable and surrendered to God (1Ti 2:11,12). #SurrenderedToGod #BeTeachable
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Interesting that here Paul seems to be exhorting women to listen more and talk less (see also 1Co 14:34,35). In other places Paul seems to elevate women’s place in church life (Junia – Rom 16:7; Priscilla – Rom 16:3–5; Acts 18:24-26; Lydia – Acts 16:12-16). There are also other women given prominence in the Bible (Deborah – Jud 4:4,- 5:15; Huldah – 2ki 22:14ff; Anna – Luk 2:36–38).
I take Paul’s comments here as specific to the Ephesian church Timothy pastors and its culture.* New women converts to Christianity who grew up in a culture heavily influenced by the goddess Diana** needed to be more teachable and submissive to God (Paul also exhorted men who needed to be corrected – Gal 2:11-13). Lord, I take from this text that I myself must also always remain teachable and surrender to you.
* 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.
To understand Paul’s comments about women in this passage one need only do a quick study of the goddess Diana (enshrined in Ephesus where Timothy was pastor). “Wonder Woman“ is our modern day equivalent. Reading Acts 19 reveals the degree to which this female goddess (also known as Artemis) was revered.
Diana was a strong, sensual and masculine model whose traits, no doubt, had a marked influence on women who were being converted to Christ and taking part in the church. Paul calls attention to this. He seeks to instruct women called by Christ out of this cult to be more modest in their dress and in their demeanor.
Lord, you have called us out of a world that is influenced by cultural icons. May my daughters (and my sons), honor you by their inner faith and actions for Christ.
May your heart be right with God and men as you pray (1Ti 2:8). #AttitudeMattersToPrayer #BeRightWithGodAndMen
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
How we come to God in prayer is as important to effective prayer as the prayer itself. Nothing will hinder our prayers more than praying with an unholy attitude – full of sin and self-righteousness (Psm 66:18; Mat 6:5).
Another hindrance to prayer is broken relationships with others – harboring anger, bitterness and unforgiveness towards others (Mat 5:23,24; 1Pe 3:7). Lord, may the heart of this old sentry be right with you and with others as I come to my post in prayer each day.
Be honest with God in all your worship (Isa 66:3,4). #BeReal #WorshipGodInTruth
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
I am to always be on my guard for any spirit of hypocrisy in my worship. Regarding worship as merely perfunctory performance to impress God or others is an abomination to God. Or to come to worship with sin and pride in my heart is anathema to God. Jesus compares hypocrisy to “Whitewashed graves. Beautiful on the outside but full of rot and decay on the inside” (Mat 23:27,28)
God compares the hypocritical spirit to four detestable kinds of sacrifice (Isa 66:3): human sacrifice, the sacrifice of dogs on the altar of atonement, the blood of hogs offered as thanks to God and incense offered as if an appeasement to some foreign God. Hypocrisy in worship is a deliberate sin against God. The outcome according, to Isa 66:4, will result in great troubles for the offender. Lord, search my heart for any disingenuous worship of you.
What is God’s “Holy Mountain“ and how does one enter into that mountain? The “Holy Mountain“ of God is literally Mt Siniai (Mt Zion). It is the place where God spoke to Moses. Spiritually it is the heavenly Jerusalem, the place where the living God dwells. It represents the presence of God.
Who can enter into that holy place (Psm 15:1–5; 24:3)? the answer is, those who set themselves apart for God, who trust in God, who worship God with genuine sincerity and a contrite heart. What will one find in God’s “Holy Mountain”? The answer is, the presence of God, joy and the perpetual listening ear of God, who will hear and answer prayer. Oh, my Lord, may this old sentry be found worthy to daily enter into your “Holy Mountain.“
Isaiah chapters 56–58 address the spiritual significance of keeping Sabbath holy. But God is not talking about a day on the calendar – a perfunctory act done out of habit. God is talking about the importance of coming to the act of worship with a heart that is humble, contrite and surrendered to him; in love with him.
It is not the keeping of a certain day that is important. It is keeping “holy” as you worship on that day, that is important. If you desecrate worship with an unholy lifestyle you will suffer the consequences. Unholy worship is anathema to God (vv 56:9-12; 57:3-58:3). But those who worship with a humble heart, they will live in the presence of God, restored, revived (57:15; Psm 34:18).
What the duty sentry does next with this understanding will make all the difference. It will mean life for you or death. Lord, “Create in this me a clean heart” (Psm 51:10).
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.
Men may think that they must have fame, wealth and power to have influence. At times men may feel they deserve to be heard. That is pride and arrogance speaking. But when one comes to God, listens to God and follows God‘s counsel, that one, whether great or small, from humble beginnings or advantaged beginnings, may have great and godly influence.
Why is this so? Because God is the one who exalts the individual, in his way, in his time (1Pe 5:6). He does so in meager surroundings and in sufficient to substantial surroundings. For God, it is not about being the best IN the world. It is about being the best FOR the world. I must examine first the one standing in the one square foot of space I occupy.
Lord, you have allowed this old sentry opportunity for godly influence; first in my family, then in my circle of friends and associates; in my realms of life. I could ask for nothing more.
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.
Following Jehovah‘s announcement of his deliverance of Israel from the hands of Babylon the subject is left. What follows is the most magnificent description of the coming Redeemer and Messiah in all the Bible (Isa 52:13-53:12). There is no superlative in the English language to describe or enhance this portion of scripture regarding the Lord’s Messiah – Jesus.
Isaiah now describes the coming Savior of the world. He sees his disfigurement and rejection as a necessary part of salvation-redemption. Described here as the humble suffering servant, this Savior would cleanse the nations. Though not immediately recognized he would amaze many and he would be highly exalted. Paul refers to this passage as the gospel to the world (Rom 15:20,21).
Lord, words fail me to express my gratitude for such a gracious savior. “Dissolve my heart in thankfulness, and melt mine eyes to tears.” *
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.
What brought down a 40 year old 12 story apartment building in Florida killing over 100 sleeping victims? The “core corrosion” of its foundation.
Isaiah prophesies that a once jeweled nation (Babylon) will be shamed and brought to ruin. Why? Her “core corrosion.” Having been used of God to chastise his people, Babylon was arrogant toward God and his people. She concluded that she was unstoppable, and without shame for her brutality and rejection of God. Any nation or people blessed of God who prostitutes that blessing and tramples on God‘s grace will come to ruin.
There is not a single god, not might, power, fame, wealth or any magic bullet that will save a corrupted nation or person. Like straw in a fire they will be unable to save themselves from God‘s judgment. Every friend and ally will turn a deaf ear to their cries for help. So says the “Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the Holy One of Israel.” Lord, press upon me the need to always be casting and eye toward heaven for affirmation of my walk before you.
* How can America do a much needed check on her “core?” She must come one by one, neighbor by neighbor, church by church, leader by leader to a place of humility before God. She must humbly cast an eye towards heaven for affirmation or conviction of her walk before God. She must humbly seek God’s forgiveness for her individual and collective “core corrosion.” It starts with me. May the Lord lay bare the heart, the core, of this old sentry. Start with me Lord. Revive me first, then my neighbors, my church, the leaders of my church, the leaders of my community, state and nation. Revive me Lord. Revive and awaken my beloved nation Lord.
“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.
Sad to say, though God makes his case for his love and mercy, still Israel rejects his call to return to him. Do the words RECALCITRANT, DELETERIOUS, mean anything? Instead of offering sacrifices of praise to honor God, they offered the best of their sinful trash. They flaunted the worst of their disobedience before God. Shameful. Am I any better Lord?
Yet, still, God offers his absolute mercy and forgiveness for sins committed against him. Why? For his own sake. For the sake of his name, his love. God says repentance (getting rid of the trash) will lead still to the pouring out his Spirit on Israel’s descendants and his blessing on their children. The people of God will once again be proud to claim God’s name over them. Lord, put within this aged sentry a surrendered and willing heart.
America – can we not see with our own eyes and hear with her own ears what is right? How long shall we refuse righteousness and ignore what is right before our own eyes and ears?
If God did not withhold judgment on his own people, Israel, how will he not withhold judgment on the nations that reject and ignore him? America has turned her back on God. She, like Israel of old, is the target of God’s fury…yet she refuses to understand. She refuses to learn her lessons.
Consider just the past 18 months: COVID pandemic, “George Floyd “– riots, grotesque racial division among us, out of control forest fires, inflation that threatens our economy, earthquakes claiming thousands of lives, inept national leadership foisted upon us and the demise of our national/international honor, pride and global influence.
Father, open the eyes of this great nation to your love, mercy and forgiveness. May she repent while there is still time and turn back to you. Begin by breaking the heart of this old sentry, Lord!
As Judah flaunts her foreign gods and idolatrous practices, the God of all providence challenges. The God of Israel predicts their future in a conquering king from the east who would defeat their captors, Babylon (promise no. 1) he would then release God‘s people from their captivity (promise no. 2). God will redeem his people. They will be strong and victorious again.
Fountains and rivers will spring up and flow in the desert (vv17-20). It is predicted. It is miraculous. What idol, made by man, can do this? But God, the Holy One of Israel, does this to prove his worthiness (vv26-29). God has made his case. There is no rebuttal (v26). There is no God like Jehovah-God. Lord, render my heart wholly abandoned to you.