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.
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.
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.
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.
Jerusalem (people of God), is located between two mountain ranges. These mountains symbolize the presence and protection of God. It is in this valley that God speaks to the prophet and reveals his vision of things to come.
The vision given Isaiah is not a pleasant one. Jerusalem has rejected the God who has enabled her strength. While they revel, their foundation crumbles. Jesus himself will later lament the rejection of Jerusalem for her Redeemer (Mat 25:36, 37).
Isaiah is left to mourn over the vision of the fall of his people. It is heartbreaking to see a people reject the one who has so blessed there existence. It causes me to weep for America, as she thumbs her nose at God, rejects his love. Oh Lord, stir the heart of this nation (my heart), that she (I myself) would listen and turn again to you.
Whatever the judgments of God on a people, there will always be a remnant. They often go unseen and unnoticed during times of spiritual squalor. While kings and priests and prophets and judges are lost in their filthy lifestyles, reel and stagger in their vision of self aggrandizement and judgments, the remnant of God stand watch.
While the nation falters, God’s remnant goes to battle in prayer and righteous living. The Lord is their pride and joy. He is their justice and their mighty courage. They are to God a “highway of holiness” a flowing “stream in the desert.” For God’s remnant, sorrow shall forever flee (Isa 35:1–10). Oh Lord, you give this old sentry hope in the worst of times.
The island in the Mediterranean Sea upon which Paul’s ship was wrecked was Malta. It was a populated island and Luke reports that the people (Phoenicians) were kind and hospitable towards the ship wrecked visitors (vv1,2). They assisted the survivors (in the rain), building a fire.
When Paul had laid wood on the fire a poisonous snake bit him on the hand. When Paul shook it off and did not die, the people thought he was a god. But no, he was just a man…a man on a mission for God. God once again delivered Paul, his man, carrying his message. God preserves safe those who love him and are called according to his purposes. Lord, you have preserved this old sentry for a purpose. You shall preserve me to the end.
From my watchtower you can hear singing in the Morning Watch, those aged words…
“Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; [His] grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”
“Cancel Culture“ is nothing new. Jesus was a victim of “Cancel Culture.” Weak politicians enable a culture that seeks to silence whatever does not fit their agenda or narrative. Two Governors, Felix and Festus, sought to appease the Jews of Palestine (a religious special interest group). They sought to “Cancel” the apostle Paul. Now King Agrippa would join in to silence, to cancel, the claims of Christianity. The goal was to shut down Paul’s revolutionary message of grace.
What does the Christian do when politicians and special interest groups seek to silence the gospel message? The Christian does what Paul did. He was relentless in sharing the message of Christ. No “Cancel Culture” will stamp out the gospel message of Jesus. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2Co 3:17). Lord, enable sentries in the watchtowers to always, in every way, rise above the “Cancel Culture” of the day.
In the movie, “The Guardian,“ Kevin Costner plays Coast Guard Senior Chief Ben Randall. He is the legendary “Guardian,“ one who protects those lost at sea. His protégé, Jake Fisher (Ashton Kutcher), asks Senior Chief Randall, “What’s your number?“ (How many did you save at sea?) Randall replies, “22.” Not many for the legendary guardsman. Then Randall says, “That’s how many I didn’t save. That’s the only number I kept track of.” In the end, Randall gave his own life to save one.
The Apostle Paul was an ancient “guardian“ of the lost souls of men in a sea of humanity. Used of God, he would give his all to save some. Paul is a real life legend who has inspired believers through the ages to give their all for Christ, that none should perish (2Co 9:22; 2Pe 3:9). Lord, I am inspired in my life by your word to give all, that I might save some. May I not fail at that task.
Inspiring notes follow on Paul, as a “guardian” over the lost souls of men:
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 9 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends be rooted, built up, strengthened in Christ and overflowing in thankfulness.
There is a way for the Christian to be secure in faith. It must begin with a healthy root system. Roots that go deep into the soil, are succulent and long, provide the best chance for a healthy plant. These roots absorb water, dissolve minerals, feed the tap root, and store reserves. Without a healthy root system the plant will be barren.
The sentinel need of any watchman is a vibrant faith. For faith to grow healthy the sentry must put roots down deep into the Word of God and be built up on the knowledge of Christ. Then, no matter what is going on above ground the sentry will be established in truth, live a healthy spiritual life and bear much good fruit. Lord your word abundantly nourishes my faith life.
Day 8 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends show enthusiasm for obedience to your word. The apostle Paul issues five sentinel orders; five imperatives that some up his message in First Corinthians:
1) BE ALERT (awake, vigilant, on guard and alive) to the Evil One’s strategies. 2) STAND FIRM (planted in, anchored in) the truth of the gospel – trust in God‘s truthfulness. 3) BE COURAGEOUS (mature, confident) to speak truth in love and conviction. 4) BE STRONG (as in well fed) nourished and growing in the truth. 5) BE LOVING; love moderates all the attitudes and actions of the sentry on duty.
“HOOAH!” – YES LORD!
* According to Stars & Stripes (military news paper) – “HOOAH” (or “huah”) is unique to the Army. Some say it stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged,” but it is often shouted to express determination and Army spirit. “HOOAH!”
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.
If the women of Judah are at ease, smugly resting in the security of their homes – thinking all is well, they should think again. Because of Judah’s rejection of God, complacent attitude and careless lifestyle she will suffer at the hands of Assyria. She should repent before God (vv11,12). But she won’t (vv1-8).
So the bounty of the countryside farms and the good life of the cities and towns will be suddenly decimated. The time was short. Assyria would conquer Judah (v10). Only a full-scale national repentance could reverse that. Sadly no one heeded Isaiah‘s warning.
Is America listening today? Her rejection of God, her sin, is no different than Judah’s. Lord, I pray that America might heed the warnings and turn fully to you in a national repentance. Send awakening Lord.
I am reminded of my Sentinel Orders to Stand Faithfully, Watch Vigilantly, Pray Earnestly, WARN CLEARLY.
But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths (Ezk 33:6).
The nation of Judah was facing a crisis (Assyrian conquest). For her sin of rejecting God she stood at the threshold of destruction. The prophet Isaiah clearly identifies the character of men and women who disdain and reject God (vv5-7). America needs to wake up, for her bulwark reveals similar vulnerabilities.
This is America’s National Disgrace. It is clear to the discerning eye. From Isaiah 32:5-7: Those who are ungodly and foolish are seen as heroes. Dishonorable men are exalted and respected. Fierce zealots make plans to further their own ends. They practice ungodliness; ridicule and marginalize those who trust in God. They make plans for their own self interests but they deprive the disenfranchised of basic needs in life. Smooth talkers appear honest/earnest, but mix sense with non-sense, scheming to mislead. They lie to convict the powerless, even when their is just cause. Can we see any of this in America today?
THERE IS HOPE AHEAD!
Isaiah speaks of a Redeemer who will come. Judah had suffered under unjust rulers and leaders, but “A righteous king is on the way. Honest princes will prevail under him.” Although Judah would be destroyed and taken into captivity, still there were many who act according to “generosity” (v8). They were hungry for a righteous ruler. That ruler, that “righteous king” would be Jesus Christ, who has already come and he will come again to rule.
WHAT WILL THE HOPE OF THIS RIGHTEOUS KING LOOK LIKE?
The coming Christ will provide, “Shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm.” His rule will be “like streams of water in the desert or the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.” In Christ’s rule “everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it. Even the hotheads will be full of sense and understanding. Those who stammer will speak out plainly” (vv1-4).
Lord, it excites the heart of this aged sentry to know the assurance of my once come, and coming again, righteous king. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Today would be as good a day as any to pray for a national repentance in America. That she would once again celebrate the Christ-child; the Savior of the world.
Lord, would you give the leaders of America a humble heart of repentance. I pray that they would no longer compare themselves to each other but see themselves in the light of a holy God.
Lord, would you begin the work of repentance and healing within the one square foot in which I stand this morning. Do a work of repentance and healing in my household. Do a work of repentance and healing in and among my neighbors, whom I know very well.
I pray for the leaders, the pastors and ministers in my city. I pray for those officials who carry out the will of the state in my county. I pray for the leaders of my state and the leaders of my nation.
From my house to the White House, Lord, may we have a humble heart of repentance. May you once again receive the honor and majesty due you in America.
Lord, this is a prayer from the heart of the sentry standing watch today. I join the sentinel call to prayer.
It is nothing short of naïve for the prodigal to think he/she can stand against the furious love of God. In verse 11, prodigal Judah says to God, “Butt out of my life.“ God says, “Thanks, I’ll take that challenge.“ Collapse will soon follow (12–14). The only way out is to turn back to God.
If you think you can out run God you do not understand his swiftness. He will batter your prideful self-will and make of you a tattered banner on a lonely hill. Then he will wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. God loves you. He will wait. Turn while there is yet time.
Lord, many years ago, this aged sentry was that tattered banner on a lonely hill. Ironically, I was on sentinel duty in a guard tower high above the Saigon River in Vietnam (Dec 28, 1968). It was in the early morning watch, in that guard tower, that my prodigal heart was turned to you. I haven’t heard from that wayward heart since. You are faithful.
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.
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)
How desperate will be those who know not the Lord at judgment – “Priests and people, servants and masters, maids and mistresses, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers, bankers and debtors. No one will be spared.” The Lord takes no pleasure in judgment. Yet it will come.
What to do? Can I go through my life knowing I have the answer for any man who wants a reason for the hope within me (1Pe 3:15)? On my watch, if I speak and no one listens, it’s on them. But if I do not speak at all, their lives are on me. Father, may I always be bold to speak fearlessly, clearly, for you.
In a popular Food Network show, chefs compete to be the “Chopped Champion.“ Every round ends with a critique (judgment) of their food. One chef is eliminated. A judge explains the critique to the chef and says, “For these reasons, we had to chop you.“
In 2 Kings 17, God explains his reasons for judgment. They are Israel’s flagrant idolatry, obstinate disobedience and her rejection of God. She had sold her soul to worship of the stars (astrology), child sacrifice and other occult practices. “For these reasons,“ the cleaver of God‘s judgment had fallen on Israel.
Is America facing elimination? Why would she? The answer: she has forgotten/left behind the foundational principles and Biblical values upon which she was built. For this she will pay a heavy price. Like Israel and Judah of old, she will find herself in a “captivity” of her own making. She will find herself in perilous times. She will find herself dealing with the God who loves her and set her apart as exceptional.
America, my beloved nation, is in a moral melee. Her moral clarity is on the chopping block. The cleaver of God‘s judgment is certain to fall. She has leapt over the precipice of moral restraint and is in a free fall of decadent behavior.
What kind of behavior? The killing of innocent babies in the womb. Rampant immoral sexual behavior and homosexuality that is now the “new normal.” Violence in our streets. Public shootings – malls, schools, theaters and homes. Widespread use of drugs and alcohol. Politicians and other leaders ignore the people, lie, cover up their misdeeds and participate in all manner of ugly and shameless partisan vitriol…and so much more.
Further more, God has been rejected by the avant-garde. They wish to remove all traces of God from schools, government, and the marketplace. The church and Christianity has been pushed to the margins of the culture, ignored as an influence in public discourse, mocked and ridiculed as extreme. Soft persecution is here. A rise of more intense persecution may be expected.
God did not make a mistake when ordaining America as a light, a beacon of freedom and liberty against the tyranny of kings and dictators. I believe that America may expect God to orchestrate all of our circumstances (good and bad) in His providence in order to bring her back to faith in Him.
All of our hope is in Him. As a sentry on the wall of intercession it is my duty to earnestly pray and sound a clear warning. I pray for a repentant America and that God will raise up young leaders and Americans that love him and love this country.
Be prepared for God to release you in his service (2Ch 29:3–5,10-12). #Revival #SpiritualAwakening https:www.bible.com116/2ch.29.3-5,10-12.nlt
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
I may not know all the ways of God in the onset of revival or spiritual awakening, but I can see clues from God’s word. God used King Hezekiah in Judah to implement a fresh wind of revival. Through Hezekiah God released the Levites (his godly servants) to purify themselves and the temple. Then to perform the ministry they had previously been denied.
Today there seems to be a growing alertness in the people of God. There is a man in leadership who, though not perfect, is a friend toward God. Hostility towards him, the increase of darkness and violence in our society, may be a clue that God is moving in our midst.
Lord, intensify this sentry’s alertness and prayer for those who minister before you daily, who lead in the cleansing of our national sins.