A Story Of Contentment

Prayer: Be filled with the joy and contentment of the Lord (Phi 4:11-13). #KnowJoyKnowContentment https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.11-13.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

“I have learned how to be content…“ This is a parenthetic statement given in the midst of a gratuitous statement of deeply felt thanks to the Philippian church for their financial provision to Paul. Paul’s joy (expressed so often and so well in this letter) informed his sense of contentment.

Joy is detached from circumstances. It comes from a deep and abiding relationship with Christ. So contentment is detached from other inner desires for more and for abundance. It comes from the One who alone gives us strength and courage every day. Therein lies the secret of joy and contentment. Fully rely on God for EVERY need. Lord, fill me with your joy and contentment today.

I learned this lesson long ago from, Beggar At The Banquet, the story of Hong, Woo Joon. He, his parents, brothers and sisters were severely and unspeakably persecuted Korean Christians as communism took over Korea in the 1920s-40s. Hong’s story is told by Donald B Sheley.

The book opens with this quote from Hong. “Life is like a banquet in a strange land. Great expectation preceeds some of the [banquet] dishes while caution hinders the complete enjoyment of others. As the guest, one is expected to taste and experience each course. Some of the courses are delightful, and others are not, but all are given by a concerned host [the Lord] and must be received and appreciated. That is my philosophy of life, a philosophy which I have been practicing at life’s banquet for 52 years. Some of the courses have been wonderful, others have been bitter.”

Sacrifice That Pleases God

Prayer: Give generously to God; he will be your provision (Phi 4:10,14–19). #CantOutGiveGod #GodIsMySupply https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.10,14-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The love and admiration between Paul and the Philippian church went both ways. He loved them and they loved him. They did not need coaxing to help Paul financially. It was and is what friends do. Help each other in times of need. They stood with Paul and his mission work like no other church.

Paul views their generous financial help as a sweet smelling sacrifice, pleasing to God. This same God will continue to supply all their needs, and his. We serve a God who is able to provide for every task to which he calls us.

Lord, I can never out give you. You supply my every need, allowing me to give generously to the cause of Christ. Thank you also Lord, for my church and it’s generous mission work.

The Sentry’s Sentinel

Prayer: Recognize Jesus as your trusted Sentry over all things (Phi 4:6,7). #EternalSentinel #NoWorriesMate https://www.bible.com/97/php.4.6-7.msg

Always The Faithful Sentinel

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Everyone has concerns. But Paul teaches us to not be over anxious to the point of distraction by our concerns. Instead, turn your problems into prayer projects. The Message Bible says it well: “Let PETITIONS [requests, appeals to God] and PRAISES [applause, thanks to God] shape your worries into prayers letting God know your concerns.“

When I make this my daily practice I discover that God begins to redirect my thoughts, allowing his peace to settle in. I have found the Lord Jesus to be always a faithful eternal sentinel standing guard over my heart and mind. Father, I put my daily concerns into your capable and trustworthy hands. Semper Fi!

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).

The Joyful Place

Prayer: Cling to “JOY in the Lord” in turbulent times, in all times (Phi 4:4; Neh 8:10). #Joy #RejoiceInTheLord https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.4.nlt

Joy In The Storm

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Having noted several divisions and disagreements in the church at Philippi, Paul moves to some more practical instruction. “Joy“ being a major focus of this letter, Paul begins there. “Always be full of joy in the Lord; again – rejoice!”

“Joy” is not happiness with no gloom. It is the victory of faith, the confident assurance of the soul secure in Christ Jesus. It is often related to and/or out of times of affliction.

Joy “In the Lord“ – God himself is the ground and object of the believer’s joy (Neh 8:10). This joy is like a storm cellar in the midst of a storm; safe, secure, from the tempest outside. Lord, be my joy, my source of strength in turbulent times; at all times.

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.

The Joy, The Reward

Prayer: Know the Joy and reward of fruitful evangelistic/faith encounters (Phi 4:1). #VictorsCrown https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.1.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

This verse rounds out Paul’s previous discussion with the Philippian believers. They are encouraged to stand courageously as citizens of heaven (3:20,21). I am also reminded here of Paul’s enormous love of those in the church at Philippi.

Paul expresses his absolute delight in the people of the church at Philippi. He equates them to a victor’s crown given to the winning athlete competing in the games. Who could be happier than that? They are Paul’s “crown,” reward, in the service of Christ Jesus. Lord you have so blessed me with fruitful faith encounters, with folks I have grown to love deeply:

Michael S, Robert, Mark P, Marvin H, Kendall K, Ronda R, Larry B, Rulen & Rebecca C, Diane F, Randy K, Juan, Raquel G, Joe & Hope Canales & Hope C, Rodney G, James G, Jennifer M, Raye E, Mary A, Ronnie A, David A, Lori B, Derek & Beth P, Danya B. THE LIST GOES ON. I love you dear brothers and sisters in Christ. You are my joy and my reward.

Heaven’s Reflection

Prayer: Reflect Heaven’s values in your life (Phi 3:20,21). #ReflectKingdomLife https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.20-21.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Standing in apposition to those who have corrupted the Gospel are those whose lives clearly represent the kingdom of Heaven. They are ambassadors of Christ Jesus in this world. This is a temporary home and soon the savior from Heaven’s Kingdom, Jesus, will call us home.

Our mortal bodies will put on a immortality like that of Christ. He will, by his power, bring all things under his control and we shall be like him in our resurrected bodies. Lord, while I am in this world may my life be a true reflection of your Kingdom.

Broken To Tears

Prayer: Seek God for his compassion toward a misguided world (Phi 3:18,19). #WhereAreTheTears https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.18-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Questions for the duty sentry:

Am I broken to tears that many, by their misconduct, show themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ?

Am I broken to tears that many are headed for an eternal destruction because of faulty beliefs?

Am I broken to tears that for many whose god is their own human efforts (circumcision), that they boast in shameful behaviors (believing grace to allow for immoral behavior in the physical) and think only about their own glory in life here and now?

Paul was broken to “tears“ for such people.

When was the last time you wept, dear sentry, over the misguided souls of men? Am I bothered and broken to tears? Father, give me a compassionate and broken heart for those around me in need of revival and awakening.

Be The Code

Prayer: Look to God‘s word (our “Code”) and to living examples of God’s word (Phi 3:17). #TheCode #TheLivingWordOfGod https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.17.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

We have the written word of God to guide us. But faith is more than a book of code to follow. How that “Code“ is followed, lived out, is also important. Therefore, we have examples to follow. Paul says, “Follow my example” (follow me as I follow Christ – 1Cor 11:1). Paul says we may also follow the example of others (like Timothy and Epaphroditus).

I have had a lifetime of examples to follow – parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, associates, friends – many godly examples of the “Code,” the word of God. I in turn am an example to others of that “Code.” I have witnessed the “Code” at work In others. Lord, may I honor and live out the sentry’s “Code” for others to see.

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.

Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Prayer: Put no confidence in any good works for Salvation (Phi 3:4–11). #SavedByGraceAlone https://www.bible.com/1588/php.3.7-8.amp

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Do you want to argue salvation by works? [“If I do this thing or that well, I will be saved.”] One might ask, “Well, how much good will be enough to assure one’s salvation?“ Paul argues, “None of it. It’s all Rubbish!” You want to argue good works? Paul would out do any and all challengers (v4). He was as Jewish as it gets (vv5,6).

Any and all the credentials of goodness are of no value for salvation. Only Christ’s infinite worthiness can gain us salvation (vv7,8). Becoming one with Christ, we take on his righteousness. We become righteous by faith in Christ alone. So give me Jesus (vv9-11). Lord, I will put my confidence in you alone for my eternal destiny. All the rest is just, “stinkin’ thinkin’.”

“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

No Quit

Prayer: Be in receive mode for God‘s instruction (Phi 3:1). #HearGod #SpeakForGod https://www.bible.com/116/php.3.1.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Oh, precious dear friends, remember to always rejoice in the Lord, no matter what comes your way. It is a joy for Paul to remind his dear brothers and sisters in the faith to rejoice in every circumstance. It is a joy for Paul to keep on telling them of the things that will safeguard their faith.This is just good fatherly advice going forward.

Paul says, “I never get tired.” Every spirit-filled pastor, Bible teacher and evangelist is motivated by the joy of Jesus to come week after week to a podium to instruct, exhort and reprove the people of God. Father, it has been my joy, though often tedious, to teach others from your Word. Thank you for the privilege.

The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful

Prayer: Look to God for faithful men and women to fortify your life (Phi 2:21,22,25-27,29,30). #MoreThanAFewGoodMen #ICHTHUS #SignOfTheFish https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.22-23,25-27,29-30.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul mentions two men here, Timothy and Ephroditus. Timothy has been a selfless and faithful co-laborer. Paul looks on him as a son. Epaphroditus is also a faithful co-worker, compassionate and honorable “fellow soldier.” He risked his life for the work of Christ. “A Few Good Men?” Yes, but more. They are “The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful.”

God has blessed me with some great companions in ministry, both men and women. I am so very thankful for the incredible contributions they have made in me personally. I can only hope to be a fraction of what they have been to me. They are, “The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful.” Iχθύς (ichthus)*

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*Ichthys or ichthus, from the Greek ikhthū́s (ἰχθύς, 1st cent. AD Koine Greek pronunciation: [ixˈθys], “fish“) is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish. The symbol was adopted by early Christians as a secret symbol. It is now known colloquially as the “sign of the fish.” The Greek letters are the initials of the words I ēsous C hristos th eou hy ios s ōtēr meaning, Jesus Christ Son of God Savior.

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.

Brighten Your Corner*

Prayer: Allow your light to shine brightly for Christ (Phi 2:12-19). #LightUpLife #BrightenYourCorner https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.12-18.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul pleads with his dear friends in Philippi to “live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.“ He could easily have been speaking to Christians in the 21st-century (2021).

Christians today ought to hold firm to the word of life and live clean innocent lives. We ought to pour out our lives in faithful service to God. Then we may rejoice to you know that out light shown brightly all the way to the end. Father, I pray that my light will shine brightly for Christ in all that I do.

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*This simple song, written many years ago, challenges Christians to Brighten The Corner Where You Are!

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,

Do not wait to shed your light afar;

To the many duties ever near you now be true,

Brighten the corner where you are.

[Refrain]

Brighten the corner where you are!

Brighten the corner where you are!

Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;

Brighten the corner where you are!

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,

Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;

Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,

Brighten the corner where you are.

[Refrain]

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.

A Hand Up

Prayer: Seek to encourage others as Christ has encouraged you (Phi 1:30–2:2). #TogetherWeStand #OneInChrist https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.30.nlt https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.1-2.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Dealing with life, especially in extraordinarily difficult times, is always more tolerable when someone else you know is struggling just as you. Paul relates well to those facing challenging, even perilous times; just as Jesus did. What could be better than to know that every follower of Christ is standing with each other, loving each other and working toward the common goal of making the Gospel known?

Paul is encouraged by his relationship with Christ. So too can any believer be encouraged. Paul was comforted by Christ’s love, the intimacies of Christ’s Spirit and the tender compassion of Christ’s heart that reaches out to those in need. So too, can any believer. Lord, there is never a need for encouragement that you cannot fill as I walk daily according to your Spirit.

Leading

Prayer: Lead with compassion, confidence and consideration of others (Phi 2:2). #LeadingWell https://www.bible.com/116/php.2.2.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Not much will make the heart of the leader know more true satisfaction than for co-laborers in Christ to be “wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”

The leader who can realize that, has found a path for personal engagement in the lives of others that most never seem to have time for. It’s not the easiest or most direct route, but it is the most satisfying. Lord, may I be a leader like that in my family, my church and my community.

Walkin’ The Talk

Prayer: Stand strongly united in faith; walk worthy of the Kingdom (Phi 1:27–29). #StandUnitedInFaith #WalkWorthyOfTheKingdom https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.27-29.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul knows his release from prison is possible, but not a “slam dunk” (v27a). So he encourages the Philippian church to make their conduct becoming, as they are citizens of Heaven. They represent the Gospel of Christ. No matter the circumstances, they should stand united in faith. They should not be intimidated by those who deride them and the entire cause of Christ.

Your life and witness is a challenge to the pagan culture around you. It serves to reveal that the enemies of the cross will be destroyed and believers will be vindicated, both by God himself. You can take that to the bank! So stand firm as Kingdom citizens. Lord, may This old sentry stand faithful and be found worthy of the Kingdom in the face of persecution and difficult times.

Deep State Faith

Prayer: May your faith serve to glorify Christ in your living or in your dying (Phi 1:23-26) #DeepStateFaith https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.23-26.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

If I Live, If I Die

Prayer: Seek to exalt Christ in life or in death (Phi 1:19–22). #ToLiveIsChristToDieIsGain https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.19-22.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Paul Clarifies what he expects as his deliverance, his vindication, as a result of prayers and God’s guidance (may be quoting Job 13:18). Paul’s earnest, eager, expectation* and hope (ignoring all other interests, straining to see beyond his circumstance) is not so much his release but that he unashamedly continues to exalt Christ.

Prayer is not about getting my own way. It’s about getting God’s way, worked out in life. For Paul, God’s will is accomplished whether he lives or whether he dies. Even Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but thy will be done“ (Mat 6:10; Luke 2:42). To live is Christ, to die is gain. One is as good as the other. Lord, may I not be so preoccupied with my circumstances that I preclude the glory of Christ.

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* Martin, Ralph P., Philippians, Tyndale NT Comentary (1959), suggests this may have been a word coined by Paul himself.

The Malevolent Preacher

Prayer: Be motivated by genuine love (Phi 1:15-19). #DoNoHarm #MalevolenceCancer https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.15-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

What kind of person would be motivated to preach the Gospel to make someone else miserable? Who would be so malevolent as to use preaching as a cudgel to hurt someone else? Who would guess that ministers/preachers would be so jealous, so envious of another as to use their ministry to somehow cause harm to another minister and his/her ministry?Paul here identifies some as just that.

These jealous, envious preachers were standing in judgment of the apostle; using Paul’s imprisonment to cause him pain (we’re not told how) and advance their own ministry. Ecclesiastes 4:4,5 says the envy of others will only lead to ruin. In Philippians 2:3,4 Paul will exhort to do nothing out of envy. In the meantime Paul is content to lean on the prayers of others and the careful guidance of God.

Someone has said, you won’t make your candle shine brighter by blowing out somebody else’s candle. Father, give this old sentry a heart of genuine love.