“Sola Gratia”

Prayer: Stay true to the doctrine of salvation by grace alone (Phi 3:2–4). #GraceAlone https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.2-4.nlt

IT IS ENOUGH

Paul is here warning the believers in Philippi to put no confidence in the works of the flesh for salvation. Whereas, devout Jews considered Gentiles as “dogs,“ he flipped the table on these so-called Judaizers. He calls them, “dogs.” They taught that for a gentle to become a true believer one must be circumcised. NOT SO! It could not be said any stronger.

These Judaizers were nothing short of evil to perpetrate such a lie. The only effect of circumcision on salvation is a “mutilation of the flesh.“ True believers put no faith in such works of the flesh. True believers rely only on what Christ did at the cross for salvation. Lord, keep this old sentry alert to anything that would lead him away from the truth of salvation by grace alone.

IT IS ENOUGH

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.

“Those People”

Prayer: Look beyond circumstances and see the greater work God is accomplishing (Phi 1:15–19). #Rejoice #BelieveGod https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.15-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

We could spend all our time bemoaning our circumstances, thinking, we are better than this or that; thinking we deserve more, better. We sometimes compare ourselves to others. We ask God why “those people“ have all the good fortune.

Paul, writing from prison no less, for simply preaching the Good News, doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He doesn’t spend his time criticizing and judging “those people.“ Those preachers, whose egos are bigger than life, who are free to go where and when they want. No. Paul sees the bigger picture. He trusts God completely to care for, guide and use him. Lord, I surrender my circumstances to you. May I not complain, but stand in faith and rejoice in knowing that you are always at work for my good and your glory.

Too Loud, Too Proud

Worship God in spirit and in truth (Col 2:16–20). #WorshipInTruth #NoCondemnation https://www.bible.com/116/col.2.16-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul tells us we are to resist the temptation to feel condemnation for how we express our worship of God; the things you do or don’t do in worship. How we worship is not as important as who we worship. For all the traditions of worship are mere shadows that point to Christ himself.

Those who condemn us for how we worship are just not honoring God in Christ. They are too loud and too proud. Their worship practices have become the ends not the means of worship. They have totally missed the point and are certainly not surrendered to God in any way. Lord, may always exalt you and not the rituals of worship.

Befriend Not Berate

Reflect the heart of God towards any enemy, overcoming evil with good (Rom 12:20,21). #LoveYourEnemy OvercomeEvilWithGood https://www.bible.com/116/rom.12.20-21.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 35 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my family and friends show genuine Christlikeness towards even their enemies.

All of Romans Chapter 12 is full with richness in regard to being a “living sacrifice;” being that one who is willing to lay his/her life down for another. This is the one who will unselfishly develop the character of Christlikeness – being authentic and ready, even eager, to help another.

This is nowhere seen more clearly than when I am willing to genuinely look for ways to be a friend and not just get even or berate an enemy. To do that I must stop, listen and try to understand their deepest needs. Then, as I apply Christlike goodness, I may conquer the evil that is intended toward me.

Jesus himself expressed at least three ways that we may overcome evil with good (Luk 6:28–36): 1) pray for your enemy, 2) love (by act of kindness) your enemy and 3) treat your enemy like you would like to be treated. Lord, you have show me how to conquer evil with good. Make of me that “living sacrifice,” willing to act in a Christlike manner towards even my enemy.

The Christian & Social Media

What is the role of the Christian on social media and in this world generally?

Prompted by recent censorship of certain media posts by FaceBook and Twitter I righteously wrote these words on Face Book: “Really through with the FB/Twitter big tech arrogance. Been a user for a long time, but I’m canceling my accounts and open to looking for alternatives.”

Not long after my little tirade the Lord had his own prompt to make in my soul. It changed my outlook as a Christian on the social media giants. It changed the way I look at the platforms they afford Christians to make a positive impact, even if they choose to silence our voice. So I compiled these few prompts from history that have fed my faith values.

Jesus said Christians “are not of this world but in it.” (Jhn 17:16-18)

John The Apostle said Christians are to be “in the world but not of it.” (1Jn 2:15-17)

Ricky Skaggs said Christians should be “of the church but not in it.” (Bass Hall; CIRCA 1975)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) said, “The Christian cannot simply take for granted the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. On the cross he was alone, surrounded by criminals and the jeering crowds. He had come for the express purpose of bringing peace to the enemies of God. So Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies. There they find their mission, their work.” (Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who died in a Nazi Germany concentration camp for his faith in Christ; he paid the High Cost of Discipleship)

Martin Luther (1483-1546) spoke these words. “To rule is to be in the midst of your enemies. And whoever will not suffer this does not want to be part of the rule of Christ; such a person wants to be among friends and sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the religious people. Oh, you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been saved?” (Luther was a German monk who forever changed the face of Christianity; he defied the Holy Catholic Church by challenging the dogma of the day with his 95 Theses, stating that salvation is by faith alone and not works)

I have yet to pay the price that any of these men in history have paid. I’m glad they stood faithful in the culture of their day, to speak their mind for the living God. In the end I had to seek the Lord’s forgiveness for my own self-righteousness. Imperfect as I am, it is humbly my goal, by God’s Spirit, to continue to influence men for Christ any where, any time, any place, in any way and on whatever platform God gives me.

Keep The Main Thing, Main

Avoid jumping to conclusions; don’t sit in judgment of others (Rom 14:6-10). #KeepTheMainThingTheMainThing https://www.bible.com/116/rom.14.6-10.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Wherever people gather there will be differing opinions; the potential for debate. All of Romans 14–15:13 challenges two such topics: eating meat sacrificed to idols and what days are to be considered as “holy.“ [Today such debates may occur around instruments or no instruments in church, style of worship, hymns vs choruses, et al]. This entire section needs to be understood in the context of Romans 12 and 13.

What should govern every debate? A culture of Christlikeness, genuine love for others, respect for authority, giving God room to work in people’s lives, etc. Rule #1 – Do no harm (13:10). Rule #2 – Consider your own accountability to God (14:12). Rule #3 – Keep the main thing [preaching the gospel] the main thing (15:20). Lord, prevent me from judging others.