I’m a retired minister; past the 3/4 century mark. I’m a member of a great church with a truly missions and discipleship heart. I heard a young minister preach not long ago in our pulpit. He closed his message with a terrific illustration having to do with sports. He said that many sit in the boxed seats and stands and cheer their team on. But they are not in uniform and they are not in the game.
For some time now I have been sidelined for reasons I shall not get into here. They are things that have committed me to be at home pretty much 24//7. While I’m happy to fulfill this particular call, I have felt at times like I’m not in uniform, not in the game like I used to be. So, as the young minister was closing the service with his sports illustration, I struggled with what he was saying. I was thinking, “Lord, I’m unable to play the game (carry the ball, run the bases, interact with the players) like I used to do.” I felt conflicted.
Then the Lord reminded me that I have had, for many years, a heart for intercession (this blog speaks to that). The Lord spoke to me and said, “Dude, you’re still in uniform and you’re still on the field, in the game. You’ve been carrying the water in prayer for decades. That desire has intensified in recent years. You’re carrying the water in prayer now more than ever.” I felt affirmed by the Lord.
My final thought in that service was this: Every team has a “Waterboy.” The waterboy is in the game, part of the game and he wears the team jersey. He carries out his role like the rest of his teammates. What the Lord was saying to me was this: I, like the waterboy, am carrying the water (intercession) for my team (God’s team). I’m in uniform and faithfully doing the job I was asked to do.
I walked out of that service thinking, I am on the field, honored to be a waterboy. No box seat for me. I’m still in uniform and in the game. So, “Thank you Lord, for my job. I’m honored to be Carryin’ The Water.”
“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 Darkness ensues because the light is withdrawn.*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.
The Lord is calling me to temporarily step away from my post as a prayer sentry.
For many years I have come daily to my Morning Watch post, to read God’s word, to consider His ways and his message. Then to write, to journal my thoughts and to pray in earnest for the many souls in my books of prayer.
“My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” – Psalms 45:1 NKJV
Although I struggle to set aside the duty of my post, the Lord reminds me that he himself had to take times away from the crowds to find refreshment. “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”–Luke 5:15-16 . This is not the first time the Lord has led me in such a way.
When I served in Vietnam it was required that every soldier take a time of respite. So a short leave from the rigors of battle was not just granted but required. The purpose was to refresh and renew.
So for the next month or so I will take this sabbatical time to seek the Father, to refresh my soul in Him who loves me and to find renewal for my sometimes weary heart.
I will not quit praying for my family, my friends and my country. I’m just temporarily stepping away from the regimens I normally follow.
Seated here in my quiet place, in the early morning watch, it is difficult for me to grasp the conflict in Paul’s spirit. Words and emotions escape me. I am challenged even to write. The brokenness of Paul’s thought patterns serve only to express his inward desire to glorify Christ, whether he lives or whether he dies. Such a deep state of faith I can only imagine.
Paul is in prison and will be on trial for his life. His thoughts move from his imminent martyrdom to emotions expressing great exultation (it cannot be exaggerated) and rejoicing that he will be released. That he will see these beloved believers again is not assumed but expected. When they see him they will be doubly encouraged in their growth and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, may the state of my faith be deep enough to glorify you whether in life or death.
Paul’s state of mind (his joy) is not tied at all to his circumstances. The entire weight of his well-being rests on two immutable facts: prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These will lead to his deliverance.
Paul believes wholeheartedly in the efficacy and potency of prayer; his own prayer, but also that of others for him. Paul also believes in the sovereign, providential leadership of the Holy Spirit as he walks with God.
God can do whatever he desires, but he chooses to work through his people. He invites us to come, counsel with him, talk with him and then walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:25). This will lead to our deliverance and his glory. Lord, I can do nothing short of taking you at your word. I will pray. You will listen and you will guide.
Prayer: Fear not dear people of America. No oppressor shall have power over you that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies does not allow (2 Kings 6:16-18). #BidenVsPutin
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
It matters not the weakness or strength of the leader of the free world; if God is for his remnant in America (or any other country), who shall stand against her? Do not be afraid of the enemy from Russia (or any where else). For greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1Jhn 4:4).
Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if the remnant of God in America shall be victorious open the eyes of President Vladimir Putin when he meets with President Joe Biden today, June 16, 2021.
No matter the state of President Biden’s mind, feeble or strong, when they meet, may Putin see what the servant of the Man of God saw as he coward in the face of the Aramean military might. [He saw that the Hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire – 2 Kings 6:16-18]. May Putin see that those who are with us are more and more than those who are with our him.
May the entire camp of Vladimir Putin be thrown into confusion as in the days of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies caused three super powers of the day to turn on and destroy each other (2 Chronicles 20:20-24). So the Lord is able to do today.
World leaders and world super powers come and go. But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will stand forever. May the Lord stand in the gap today as Joe Biden meets with Vladimir Putin. The Lord will stand with truth, justice and righteousness on the world stage. May the world be convinced today of the power of the Lord God.
What is the prayer, that “holy hug,” that Paul expresses for his beloved friends in Philippi? He prays that the love of Christ might pour out in abundance from them to others. He prays that they will continue to grow in their knowledge of Christ, that they might live moral upright lives. He prays that they will be filled with the fruit of salvation (the righteous character of Christ). The ultimate goal of all of this is that they will bring much glory, praise, to God.
So, following Paul’s example, I pray for my family, friends and nation that Christ love might abound in them, knowledge of Christ will continue to grow, that Christ-likeness will be revealed in them and that ultimately, God will be glorified in their lives. And Lord, may my love, Christian character and witness also bring glory to the father.
Paul continues his affectionate greeting. He communicates his prayers and encouragement to the Philippian believers. It his way of embracing those far away from him and giving them a spiritual hug, a “holy hug.”
So it has also become my joy to pray for and write to those for whom I pray – my wife, my children, grandchildren and spiritual adopteds; my neighbors, friends, leaders in my church, leaders in our nation, state, county and city; for all others whom the Lord gives a reason for me to pray.
This is the call of the prayer sentry, to search God’s word daily, to hear and receive from him my assignments in prayer. Then to pray for these beloved family, friends, leaders and others.
Prayer is a constant focus of the apostle Paul. He always has someone, some church, some group of people on his mind in prayer. Thanks is another virtue of Paul. He is forever thankful…to God, to partners in ministry and for those who have given their lives to Christ. Paul never takes for granted the work of the gospel nor the partners and fellow workers in ministry.
A sure sign that one may be an intercessor is his/her thankful heart and joy in always being ready to pray for someone or some group. It is his/her delight to pray. That is the intercessor. This is the seminal work of the prayer sentry. Father, I shall never forget those days in which you called me to the ministry of intercession.
Epaphras (likely founder of the church in Colosse) – Paul opens his letter to the Colossians with a note about Epaphras (1:7). He mentions him again in the closing (4:12,13). Epaphras is noted as a faithful servant and man of earnest prayer. It is said that he “always labors fervently for you in prayer…“ That is, on any and every occasion Epaphras was ready to pray.
Epaphras was not only ready, he prayed “fervently.“ That is, he prayed with painstaking accuracy and knowledge. He was an earnest and sincere intercessor. Epaphras was “moved” by God towards deep heartfelt prayer. This is the goal of the Prayer Sentry. Lord, may this sentry, every prayer sentry, take every opportunity to sincerely pray for the welfare of others, that they might stand mature in the will of God.
When Paul declares that Jesus was/is the supreme, preeminent one in life and in the universe (v15) he meant clearly that Jesus was the head, the first. He existed ahead of the beginning (v15). So everything begins with Jesus (v18), and it ends with Jesus – he is the author and finisher of our faith.
God himself became the God-man. “He was pleased in all his glory to live as a human in Christ Jesus” (v19). By this glorious manifestation he was able to reconcile men, make them right with him. What God chooses to do that? None. Only Jehovah God. My God. Lord, I exalt you as my Supreme and preeminent Leader in life. I owe all to my redeemer God.
Paul prays for the believers in Colossae. His prayer is broken up into three parts.
1 of 3 – Paul prays that these believers would have a growing knowledge of God‘s will; spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then Paul explains how that would work itself out. [They did not have the advantage of the complete word of God as we do today] They would walk worthy of their call (honoring/pleasing God), they would produce good fruit in their lives (acts of service and goodness), and they would continue to grow in the knowledge of God (get to know God better and better).
It is important that we read and study God’s word. But not to accumulate or pile up more and more facts (we could pass a test). No, we read/study God‘s word to get to know him better and better. Knowing him, his ways and his will, we will be better able to honor and please him. We will know how to produce gracious acts of service in his name, that achieve good results. Finally, knowledge of him begets more knowledge, more honor, more good fruit…and so it goes.
I may not pray this specific prayer each day. But it is my desire that every prayer I pray over family, friends and country has the effect of their growth in the knowledge of God‘s will; spiritual wisdom and understanding.
When Paul says, “We have not stopped praying for you…“ he is not making some impromptu, casual remarks. He intends with all earnestness to point the Colossian church to the great God of all creation. Prayer is not a bargaining chip, an after thought or a therapeutic exercise in meditation. Prayer is the means by which God achieves his purposes in this world.
Paul speaks in the tradition of Jesus who instructed his disciples to “pray earnestly” (Luke 10:2); who taught that “men are always to pray and not faint” (Luk 18:1). Lord, prayer and the reading of your word is essential to sentry’s growth and effectiveness as a follower of Christ; to the advancement of the Gospel in this world.
I have been in many jails and prisons in my ministry from God. But only as a minister, not as an inmate. Paul writes as an inmate. He writes to believers in Colosse from a prison cell in Rome (likely under house arrest, probably chained to a soldier). Young Timothy is there to assist (perhaps he lived in the house).
I have known and do currently know inmates and former inmates who have trusted Jesus as Savior. These men and women write inspiring letters from prison. They have had much time to focus long and hard on God‘s word. They often write lofty thoughts and phrases. So Paul writes soaring lofty thoughts. He is inspired by his Old Testament learning, his apostolic calling from God and under the direction of the Holy Spirit,.
I’ve been a soldier in war. I’ve been a minister in jails and prisons. Now, as a long tenured prayer sentry, I am ever more compelled in my “watch” hours to listen to God. I am compelled as a believer to pray, write and witness. Oh how I thank God for the place to which he has brought me in my life with him.
Oh the beautiful valley in which the city of Jerusalem sits; it is now filled with enemy chariots of war (vv6,7). Why? Because the people of God rejected him. Judah trusted in her own self-made plans. She built her war chests against the Assyrian enemy. She ran to her armories. She sought to shore up her breached walls. She stored up her reservoirs for war. She did everything but ask God for his help.
Today, I hear much rhetoric from politicians, educators, corporate, media and activist leaders, yea, even the citizenry. There is much talk of war against their perceived enemies. Like Jerusalem against her Assyrian enemy, America runs for her political arsenals, she seeks to shore up her walls of political advantage. She works furiously to fill her political reservoirs. But defeat on all sides will be as swift and sure as was Jerusalem‘s. Why? History teaches us. Because, like Jerusalem, in all of America’s self made plans, her leaders have abandoned the people (v3). She arrogantly pursues her own interests. She never stops to ask for God’s help. He is the one who sets her back on her heels; and though rejected by her, loves her and would save her. If she would only ask.
All of this presses this old sentry to his knees in prayer and mourning for my beloved country. Oh that she might seek for God’s help.
To understand the full force of this one verse, one must read the entire account of the typhoon at sea and the escape of the apostle Paul, the ship’s crew and its passengers from certain destruction (vv13-42). Then, Luke says, “Fearing the ship would be driven against the rocks of some shoreline, they threw out four sea anchors to slow the ship down and prayed for daylight.“ These seasoned sailors feared for their lives. They were terrorized by the tumultuous seas for 14 days and nights.
The Welch poet, George Herbert (1593–1633) wrote, “He that will learne to pray, let him go to Sea.” Here, at sea, one may encounter the ultimate in awe and terror. But thanks be to God, as the Psalmist explains in Psalm 91, “The one who lives in the shelter of the Almighty shall not fear the terror of the night.” Lord, you have delivered this sentry through many a terror in my own storm tossed seas of life. I have seen the glory of the Lord – I will sing of my redeemer God.
Day 14 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, assure my family and friends of your mighty protection and provision.
Nehemiah gives me great advice for uncertain, even hostile times: 1) do not fear the enemy – Jesus said, “Don’t fear those who kill the body but not the soul; fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell;” 2) remember the Lord your God who is great and glorious; 3) stand and fight for your families and your homes.
Lord, I am standing my post today in prayer, defending in the Spirit, my family and friends from the evil of the day.
Day 1 of 40 Prayer For Family – Father, I am standing in the gap for my family. I’m praying for them by name. It is not just a “happy“ life that I pray for them. I pray for their protection from the evil one, from all oppressive spirits that wish to dominate their lives. I pray that their obedience to God‘s word be pleasing unto him.
I pray that God‘s mercy and grace and compassion rain down on each one. I pray that they live in such a way as to bring God’s wholehearted approval. I pray the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension might follow after them. Lord, may this prayer reflect your desire for each one in my family.
I commit further, this prayer, to dear friends and beloved country.
Paul is about to leave the leaders of the church at Ephesus. He will entrust them with the great message of grace. He tells them, “GUARD yourselves…feed and care for the flock – the church. “WATCH OUT!“ Be alert to false teachers and prideful men who seek only a following for themselves. Such people will divide and create disunity in the church.
To “GUARD” and to “WATCH OUT” are a call to arms for the faithful leader in the church and in the family. Standing vigilantly requires him/her to, 1) teach God’s word well, 2) minister in truth and all sincerity, 3) counsel by prayerful insight, sought through tears and deep spiritual connections and 4) sound the alarm when danger approaches. Father, may this sentry effectively share the gospel and express the truth of Scripture by my words and by my example.
Turning again to the destroyer (presumably Assyria) of Israel, Isaiah pronounces disaster on this enemy of God‘s people. Though this destroyer is used by God to discipline his people they (presumably a holy remnant) offer up prayers acknowledging God as merciful and strong in times of trouble.
As in Job 13:15, this remnant says, “God might kill me but I have no other hope. I will take my case up with him.” The Lord God is our sure foundation. Reverence and respect of God is our greatest treasure in every circumstance. Lord, the ardent sentry has no greater treasure than his/her reverence for you. I shall put my faith in you.
At the center of the Jewish faith is the temple in Jerusalem and the worship of Jehovah God. At the center of the Christian faith is the temple of the Holy Spirit (my body – 1Co 6:19) and the collective worship of God by believers in union together with Christ (Jhn 4:23,24).
The call has always been to worship God in spirit and in truth. But we see here that rote ritual, rules and observances had supplanted sincere worship of, and devotion to, God. It was indifferent and deceitful. It happens today as well. This brings the holy ire of God on dead lifeless religion. Father, may this sentry worship & serve you with a whole heart, given in spirit and in truth.
Lord, would you bring America to a place of sincere worship and devotion to you. Would you intervene and give her a whole heart for you. Would you sweep our land in renewal, revival and spiritual awakening.
The lives of men will not be changed by providing a good environment. Although, that may help enormously. But even the most gracious of divine kindnesses, which God may display, are ignored by many. They take no notice of God’s daily mercies. They are taken for granted.
Men seem far more likely to respond better to judgment then to blessing. Judgment brings me face-to-face with my own inadequacies; my need to surrender to God. To this aging sentry this becomes far more evident. So, for me Lord, it is in the morning watches, before the dawn breaks, that I will earnestly seek you. In you I will find peace and accomplishment.
It is clear that Isaiah‘s view here is apocalyptic and messianic. “In that day,“ is the Day of the Lord. “In that day,” the Lord will rule in richness and abundance. Death will be banished, a thing of the past. Elections? No bearing.
The cause of all tears will be eliminated – hurt, pain, suffering, sickness, persecutions – GONE! God has spoken! The people will shout, “YES! This is the One [Jesus Christ] in whom we have trusted. Finally, every enemy of God will be forever gone. Vanquished. Done. Elections? No bearing.
Lord, my rejoicing and confident heart does not even begin to express my inner excitement at the outcome of your promised return. Elections? No bearing.
What keeps you awake at night? Securing your family, your home, your wealth? Your life? In God’s judgment none of these things will be safe.
The crisis of our day is but a harbinger of what is to come. The Scriptures read like a current news story: “There is no new wine – [where are the voices for God’s word?]. Joy is silenced. THE CITY WRITHES IN CHAOS; every HOME IS LOCKED to keep out intruders. MOBS GATHERin the streets, crying out for wine. Joy has turned to gloom. Gladness has been banished from the land. THE CITY IS LEFT IN RUINS, it’s gates battered down” (24:7-12). Sometimes I read Scripture and cannot believe my own eyes. Today we are seeing a picture of what God’s judgment will look like.
This old sentry has stood his watch many a day and night, near 75 times around the sun. From my watchtower I have not seen such chaos inside my own walls, in my own streets and political landscape as seen today. This sentry cries out in the Morning Watches, “Lord, enlarge my heart for the city. Much of my days are past, but my heart breaks for my city. I will do whatever I can.”
“Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. . . Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Psm 31:21–22,24)
“And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” (Jer 29:7)
There is a saying in Texas – “One Riot, One Ranger.” Heaven also has a saying, “One Assault, One Angel.”
The fierce fighting monarch, King Sennacherib of Assyria, showed up in full battle array to assault Jerusalem’s gates. He sent messages taunting King Hezekiah and the citizens of the city (vv10–19). He mocked and derided Jehovah God.
Although smaller in numbers the people of Jerusalem were prayed up, prepared and putting faith in God (vv1-8). Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah cried out to the God of heaven. God sent ONE ANGEL and destroyed the whole Assyrian army. Sennacherib went home in disgrace, never to be heard from again – he was killed in the temple of his god, by his own sons. Lord, this one lone sentry has reason to prayerfully expect you to do great things in any given day.