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.”

It Ain’t Rocket Science

Tap into the formula of God‘s joy, contentment and peace (Phi 4:8,9). #KnowGod #JoyPeaceContentment https://www.bible.com/116/php.4.8-9.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

This is not rocket science. If you always want to be full of joy (v4), contentment (v6) and know God’s peace (v7), do this: focus on the soon return of Christ (v5), spend time with God in prayer (v6) and exemplary living (v8) – enthusiastically embrace the truth and what is honorable; embrace what is ethically right and morally pure; embrace amiability and virtuous living; embrace an attitude of praise for all it is excellent.

Give attention to these things, study them, practice them. All of these things practiced consistently will lead to a life of joy and contentment and peace. It ain’t rocket science. Lord, I recognize that true joy, contentment and peace are not out of the grasp of even an aged old sentry.

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.

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]

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.

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.

“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.

Fearless Faith

Prayer: Face each day with fearless faith (Phi 1:12-14). #FearlessFaith #BoldWitness https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.12-14.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

This is my free translation of Paul’s message in these few verses. “I’m in prison but everything that has happened to me here is helping to spread the Gospel. Everyone here in prison knows my mission to spread the Gospel…even the prison guards. Believers here with me in prison are emboldened to share the Gospel message – WERE WINNING! NO FEAR!“

Never underestimate the power of your influence for Christ. Your voice, your countenance, your message, your encouragement, your passion for sharing Jesus can help others to face their troubles and fears. What great opportunities to share the Gospel await me every day. Lord, may I face every situation, not with fear but, with fearless faith.

Following The Christ-Life

Prayer: Be a living expression of Christ-likeness (Phi 1:9-11). #TheChristLife https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.9-11.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

Extraordinary People

Prayer: be thankful for those with whom you minister (Phi 1:6-8). #GiveThanks https://www.bible.com/116/php.1.5-8.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

This may be Paul’s most tender greeting of all his epistles. His affection for the Philippians leaps off the page. “God will most certainly finish his work in you at Christ’s return.” Paul appeals to God himself as a witness of the deep and abiding love he has for these believers. Why? Because they have drunk deeply together at the well of faithful ministry (good times and hard times).

It has been my honor to serve with some of God’s choicest servants. We have in common great ministry opportunities to defend the gospel and to introduce others to Christ. That also includes men and women who have generously donated such ministry. Our love for each other was forged in the crucible of ministry. Our affection for each other can only be described as an encounter with the compassion of Jesus. Thank you Father for the extraordinary bond we share.

Place? Here!; Time? Now!

PRAYER: Serve Christ from where you are (Col 4:7-14). #NoPlaceLikeHereNoTimeLikeNow https://www.bible.com/116/col.4.7,9-12,14.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

In the closing lines of Paul’s letter to the Colossians he speaks kindly of eight men who are standing with him in the call to preach the Gospel. Some are in prison with him in Rome. Some are ministering to him in his incarceration for the Gospel. But prison for Paul, rather than a place of doom, gloom and defeat, has become a busy center for flourishing ministry. (“What [men] meant as evil against me, God meant for good, that many people should be kept alive – Gen 50:20)

From prison Paul plans ministry and prays for many. He teaches, disciples, exhorts, sends others out and serves Christ from prison. No matter his circumstances he is “content” (Phi 4:11 – written from prison). For Paul the place is here and the time is now. He finds ways to continue to spread the Gospel message. Prison holds no bars for the man or woman of God. Lord, though limited in my elder years, this duty sentry is determined to be as engaged as ever doing what he can to pray, share the Gospel and to encourage the people of God.

Get Practical

PRAYER: Activate your best sensory responses to people (Col 4:5,6). #GetPractical https://www.bible.com/116/col.4.5-6.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

After you have prayed in private it is time to live your Christian life publicly. So, Paul says, Get Practical. Be prudent in your actions before a watching world…for the sake of the Gospel. Do not waste any opportunity to speak for Christ. And when you do speak, strive to flavor every conversation with grace (Eph 5:15,16).

Listen carefully to what people say so that you might give the best most appropriate response (Eph 4:29). Lord, fill this old sentry with your Spirit, that I may be prudent, alert, attentive, gracious and relevant. Enable my best sensory responses to those around me.

Open Doors!

PRAYER: Diligently pray for the work of missions, the spread of the Gospel (Col 4:3,4). #PrayHardGoHardForJesus https://www.bible.com/116/col.4.3-4.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Aside from the general need to be devoted in prayer, alert to any specific circumstances requiring prayer – pray with a humble and grateful heart. Paul also makes a request for prayer for his own efforts, even as he is in prison.

Paul requests prayer for open doors to share the gospel; that he might speak clearly for Christ and the Gospel message. How mindful am I of many ministries, mission efforts and church planting teams? It should be my goal to spend time praying for these organizations, the men and women who lead these efforts. Lord, give this sentry open doors to share the Gospel and be clear in the message.

Tribute

PRAYER: Honor the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col 3:16,17). #HonorJesus #RememberWhoYouAre https://www.bible.com/116/col.3.16-17.nlt

Honor The Name

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The message here is to represent well the exalted Christ. Let your teaching, counsel [all your conversation] be ordered by the wisdom Christ gives. Let your worship and singing reflect a heart of thanksgiving to God for all he has done. In all you do (everything) honor the name of Christ. Lord, may I always bring honor to your name.

TRIBUTE: I used to tell my children, there were two rules in our house. One, you’re a Hollar you belong to me. Two, you’re a Christian, you belong to Christ. Honor both names wherever you go and in whatever you do. They are now grown, married and have three children each of their own. As far as I know they have always honored the Hollar name and the name of Christ. They still do.

Follow The Call

Hear clearly and respond to God‘s call on your life (Col 1:24-29). #FollowJesus #ShareJesusNow https://www.bible.com/116/col.1.24-29.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

For this I came, to suffer any hardship for the cause of the Gospel. Paul clearly understands his call from God. That is, to proclaim the message of Christ – it is now no mystery. Christ came in human form. He died a real death, that all men might know the riches of the glory of God.

“Christ lives in you.“ Paul and every Christian are called to tell others of Christ’s love and forgiveness. It is up to me to use every resource God gives me in life to carry out this call. Lord my call is clear, “Do the work of an evangelist – influence men for Christ.“ Lord, with your strength, I will strive to fulfill my call, all the way to the end.

Peace With God

God loves you and offers peace with him through the shed blood of Jesus (Col 1:20-23). #LifeIsInTheBlood #ReconciledToGod https://www.bible.com/116/col.1.20-23.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

My peace with God comes as a result of the blood Jesus shed on the cross for my sins. In the Levitical law it is shown that the bloodline of man was infected with sin through Adam’s rebellion (Lev 17:11). So now, the shedding of innocent blood provides renewal of the life of God in me. (In the Old Testament the blood of an innocent lamb was shed for the forgiveness of sin; in the New Testament Jesus Christ was that innocent lamb removing man’s sin [Jhn 1:29]).

Forgiveness and eternal life comes through Christ to all men and women who put their faith (trusting the truthfulness of God) in him to redeem them. Christ was/is the only means of redemption. Christ came in the flesh to shed blood for the remission of sin. Though I was alienated from God, I am now reconciled because I have received by faith new life through the blood of Christ.

Moved

Be moved, powered and sustained by the Gospel of Christ (Col 1:7,8). #GospelPower #JoyInTheGospel https://www.bible.com/116/col.1.7-8.nlt

Mighty Wind of the Gospel

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

We see here that Paul’s faithful friend and co-laborer, Epaphras has joined him in a Roman prison (Phe 1:23). Incarceration has not diminished in anyway the enthusiasm or sense of mission that Epaphras (or Paul) have for the gospel.

Epaphras is pleased to report to Paul the good progress of the Colossian church (vv4,5); their faith and their love for others given by the Holy Spirit. Men and women called of God may suffer shame and dishonor, but the cause of Christ will always move them forward. Father, may the greater good of the Gospel be ever before me today.

“Bond Of Brothers”

Seek out people in life to be “beloved, faithful coworkers [friends]” (Col 1:7). #EternalBondsOfFriendship https://www.bible.com/116/col.1.7.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

To the people of Colossae Paul writes, “You learned about the Good News from Epaphras.” All we know of Epaphras is found here and in Philemon 1:23. Paul calls him a “beloved worker…faithful servant”; Paul leaned on him to lead the day-to-day ministry founded in Colossae. He was a kindred spirit to Paul, same as Philemon, in whose house the Colossian Church met (Phe 1:1,2).

We also learn from Philemon 1:23 that Epaphras may also have been in prison with Paul in Rome for preaching the Gospel. The bond between Paul and Epaphras was deep and profound. I have been blessed through the years to know such men and women in ministry. Lord, my heart is moved even now with joy unspeakable to have forged new local church ministries with such dear friends. They always encourage the heart of this old prayer sentry.

For another tribute to beloved friends see “A Galaxy Of Saint” here https://theprayersentry.com/2020/09/19/a-galaxy-of-saints/

Affirming Faith

Your faith is affirmed by God’s word and the testimony of others (Col 1:3–6). #GodsGraceForAll

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The Apostle Paul opens his letter to the Colossians with an affirming tone. Paul is genuinely prayerful and thankful for these believers. Why? Because of their faith in Christ and their love for all God’s people. He affirmed the root of that faith and love: a confident hope in the coming kingdom of Heaven; a certain assurance that comes with the Good News (the gospel of Christ).

These are the truths in which they believed and by which their lives were changed. This Good News was spreading to everyone everywhere, even to this very day. It was then, and is now, bearing the same fruit in the lives of many. It changed my life too. God’s grace is for everyone. These words affirm my faith in Christ too. Lord, may I use every opportunity to affirm the faith of others.

Don’t Give Me No Country Song Jesus

Devote your life to the one true God (2Ki 17:29,32,33,40,41). #WorshipJehovahGodAlone #NoCountrySongJesus https://www.bible.com/116/2ki.17.29,32-33,40-41.nlt

MORNING WAYCH NOTES:

The nation of Israel had fallen to Assyria. A captive priest of Jehovah God was sent to teach the new settlers how to worship God in the land. But they did not worship Jehovah God alone. They continued to worship their own gods as well. Israel had done the same and left many pagan shrines in the land that the new settlers used to worship their pagan deities. Makes me wonder about the heart of the priest who was sent to teach them of Jehovah God.

Today I am mindful of the Country & Western music I hear. Country & Western singers have no problem mixing Jesus, barstools and neon lights, like they all just go together. Get drunk on Saturday night, repent on Sunday morning. To call the name of Jesus is not the same as believing in Jesus (Mat 7:22). Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of true Jesus followers in country music. But Lord, this ol’ sentry don’t want no “country song Jesus” to command his life. Give me the real McCoy.