Respected Ministry Servants

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

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.

Remain Teachable

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

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.

** See previous post BEAUTY BEYOND SKIN DEEP

Beauty Beyond “Skin Deep”

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

May women of God be known by/for their inner beauty (1Ti 2:9,10). #BeautyBeyondSkinDeep https://bible.com/bible/116/1ti.2.9-10.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Attitude Matters

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

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.

Two-faced Worship

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Be honest with God in all your worship (Isa 66:3,4). #BeReal #WorshipGodInTruth

Don’t be Two-faced With God

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.

Finding God’s Presence

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Oh that we might dwell before God in humility and sincerity (Isaiah 56:6,7; 57:13). #HolyMountain #HolyCity #PlaceWhereGodDwells #PlaceOfPerpetualPrayer https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.56.6-7.NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.57.13.NLT

Mt Siniai

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.“

Life & Death Decision

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Consider the condition of your heart when worshipping God (Isa 56:2,4,6; 58:13,14). #LifeAndDeath #Worship https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.56.2-6.NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.58.13-14.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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).

PAY ATTENTION!

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).

Inexplicable Pardon

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Find humility to repent toward God who is steadfast to forgive (Isa 55:8,9). #GodsWaysNotMansWays #Inexplicable https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.55.9.NLT

Inexplicable

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

“Pardoned!”

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Do not ignore God’s call to deep repentance (Isa 55:6,7). #RepentTowardGod #Pardoned https://bible.com/bible/114/isa.55.7.NKJV

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Influence

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

Learn that godly influence begins with listening to and obeying God (Isaiah 55:3–5). #Influence #BeingTheBestFORTheWorld https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.55.3-5.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

The Least Gift

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

It’s a little thing, but a big thing!

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Humbly gift yourself to our loving Redeemer (Isa 54:5-8). #TheLeastGift https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.54.5-8.NLT

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.

No Words

PRAYING FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CHURCH AND NATION

May hearts dissolve in thankfulness and eyes melt in tears for the Savior’s love and sacrifice (Isa 52:13-15). #NoGreaterLove #SufferingServant https://bible.com/bible/1588/isa.52.13-15.AMP

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.” *

* At The Cross, Isaac Watts, 1707

Truly Accepted

PRAYER: Look for your acceptance in God’s measure of your life (Isa 49:1-7) #AccteptedByGod https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.49.1-7.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Core Corrosion Of A Nation*

PRAYER: Humbly look to God for affirmation or conviction of your walk (Isa 47:1–15). #CoreCorrosion #SoulRevival https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.47.4.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Victory, Defeat; God’s Role

PRAYER: Understand the providence of God in your every pursuit (Isa 45:7). #TheProvidenceOfGod https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.45.7.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

“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.

* See Barnes’ Notes on Isaiah (pg 149,150)

“Trash Day America!” – Put Out The Trash

PRAYER: Express a surrendered and willing spirit towards God (Isa 43:22-44:5). #SurrenderedHeart #ObedientHeart #PutOutTheTrash #Repentance https://bible.com/bible/97/isa.43.22-25.MSG

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Is America The Subject Of God’s Fury?

PRAYER: Listen to God and do what is right in his sight (Isa 43:18–25). #Judgment #GreatAmericanFailure #TurnToGod https://bible.com/bible/97/isa.42.18-25.MSG

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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!

Case Closed!

PRAYER: Render your heart abandoned to God (Isa 41:1-29). #AbandonedToGod https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.41.4-29.NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Walk In Faith

Prayer: Hold fast to faith and joy in Christ (Phi 4:4-5) #FaithWalk https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.4-5.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

I always want to hear what the Holy has to say to me directly. But this morning the New Living Translation Bible study notes ring the bell: “Ultimate joy comes from Christ dwelling within us. Christ’s coming is near, and when he comes we will fully realize his ultimate joy.“

In the meantime, “We are to be considerate (reasonable, fair minded and charitable) to those outside the church as well as those inside. This means we are not to seek revenge against those who treat us unfairly, nor are we to be overly vocal about our personal rights. [Christ] who lives within us will fulfill his final purposes for us“ (NLT study notes).

The years teach much which the days never know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Lord, may the faithful sentry be always mindful to walk by faith and not by sight (2Co 5:7).

Resolve Your Differences

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

Jones/Landry: Time To Bury The Hatchet

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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

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

Hold Nothing Back

Prayer: Strive for the prize of knowing Christ (Phi 3:12-16). #HoldNothingBack #StriveForThePrize https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.13-14.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul reflects momentarily on his past. But he does not dwell there. He mentions some things for which he was ashamed. Are we not all dogged by shameful things? But Paul‘s point of view is that the past ought not haunt us today and paralyze our movement forward in Christ.

Paul strives for maturity. He labors now, not for salvation, but for knowing Christ more fully. Like a track athlete, he disciplines himself and pushes himself toward the crown of victory to which Christ has called him. Lord, this old sentry is encouraged by Paul to let go of my past failures and hold nothing back from fully knowing and serving Christ.

Teacher, Mentor, Discipler

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

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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

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

Worship Jesus

Prayer: Exalt the living Christ as Lord of all (Phi 2:9–11). #EveryKneeShallBow #JesusIsLord https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.9-11.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul’s words here lead us to worship. Whereas, the humility and obedience of Christ is an example for me to emulate, that humility becomes the source of his exaltation in heaven. He is exalted as Lord and ruler over all. The day will come when every human who ever lived will bow down and worship him. This fulfills Isaiah 45:22,23.

First Peter 5:6 also teaches that those who have humble themselves before Christ shall also be exalted, as servants of the most high God. But those followers of Jesus need not wait to worship him as Lord. We may today lift our voices in praise to the living Lord Jesus as our exalted and mighty King.

The dutiful prayer sentry shall one day lay down his/her weapon of prayer in exchange for robes of eternal worship of their King; JESUS!!

The Path Toward Awakening

Prayer: Choose to put other’s rights ahead of your own (Phi 2:5–8). #ServantHeart https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.5-8.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Jesus Christ is the supreme example of humility. He was the Son of God. He did not surrender his deity to become a man…He set aside his rights as deity. He willingly put the needs of humanity for salvation ahead of his own rights as deity. Paul says we ought to have this same attitude towards others.

To set aside our rights in favor of another’s is not looking down on ourselves as somehow inferior. It is to simply put others first, out of genuine love for them and NOT demand our rights first. It is a choice we make. [What would America look like if everyone did that?] Father, may I honor you in my choices to serve others.

Quintessential Humility

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

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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

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