Thread The Needle

Don’t allow traditions to disrupt sincere fellowship among believers (Acts 21:21-26). #SincereFaith #ThreadTheNeedle https://www.bible.com/116/act.21.19-21,26.nlt

Once again Paul finds himself caught between Jewish tradition and the new Christian faith. Again he is confronting the Jerusalem church elders steeped in Jewish tradition. Both Paul and these elders had come along way from the Acts 15 conflict. They all seemed more prepared to yield to each other as being sincere in faith. Everyone seemed confident that various traditions among believers and between church bodies were acceptable. As long as they understood that traditions are not the means of salvation.

The fundamental issue is faith in the cross of Christ for the atonement of sin, as the solitary means of salvation. What follows after that is a matter of choice and conscience. It is a matter of threading the needle between relationships and religious tradition.

It would seem that relationships over traditions would be a small matter when it comes to the all important mission of taking the gospel to a lost world. Yet, if the world is to see faith in action among believers, then relationships must always trump ritual and religion.

Father, may the faithful sentry seek to find common ground with sincere believers who worship different than they; who have different backgrounds than they, but worship the same Jesus.

A Clear Choice

Choose daily to serve the God of Heaven and no other (Jos 24:14,15). #ChooseJesus #NoOtherGodsBeforeMe https://www.bible.com/116/jos.24.14-15.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 40 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my friends and family always choose to serve God alone.

In Joshua Chap 24, Joshua recounts the many ways that God, not idols made of their own hands and minds, delivered Israel from Egypt, lead them through the Red Sea on dry ground, delivered them from the hands of enemy kings and gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. The Lord God of Heaven did all that.

Joshua then asks, in essence, in light of all the evidence for God, why on earth would you choose the idols of the pagan nations that God destroyed? The choice is clear. He says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the lord God of Israel.” Lord when I consider all the battles you have won for me, all the provisions you have made on my behalf, the choice is clear…I choose to serve you.

* The Burden Borne

Take your anxious thoughts and burdens to Jesus (Mat 11:28–30). #HeavyBurden #AnxiousHeart #GiveItToJesus https://www.bible.com/116/mat.11.28-30.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Day 27 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Father, may each of my dear family and friends roll every burden and care onto you today.

When the burden we carry is heavy and the load feels too much, come to Jesus, who alone is able to comfort our weary heart. He says, “I will give you rest. Let me teach you.“ How? Through his word, through the healing touch of a friend or minister, through worship and praise. Find comfort through the written stories of saints who have suffered many sorrows and found Jesus, more than able.

The Apostle Peter tells us we can roll our burden and care over onto Jesus, because he cares about us (1Pe 5:7). Who among us has not screamed out in agony of pain suffered in one form or another. I know that I have. Jesus you have never abandoned me. You have never ignored my anxious cries for help. You have never failed to rest the weary anxious heart of the sentry in need.

* THE BURDEN YOU BEAR

A troubled and burdened man prayed and prayed that God would lift his burden. Day after day he prayed that his life would be easier and he begged for God’s intervention.

One day, Jesus came to the man and asked, “My child, what troubles you?” The man replied that his life was full of turmoil and that it had become too much to bear. He again asked for help stating that he just couldn’t continue to go on.

Jesus, feeling the man’s anguish, decided help was in order. The man was so happy that his prayers were about to be answered that his burden already felt lighter.

Jesus took the man to a room and stopped in front of the door. When he opened the door, what the man saw was amazing. The room was filled with crosses; little crosses, big crosses, giant crosses. The man, bewildered, looked at Jesus and asked how this would help him. Jesus explained that each cross represented a burden that people carry; small burdens, big burdens, giant burdens — and every burden in-between. At this point, Jesus offered the man the opportunity to choose his burden.

The man, so excited that he was finally able to have some control over his life, looked around the room for just the right cross. He saw a tiny little cross way back in the corner. It was the smallest cross in the room. After a bit of thought, he pointed to the cross and said, “That one, Lord. I want that one.” Jesus asked, “Are you sure?” The man quickly replied, “Oh, yes Lord. Most definitely, yes.”

Jesus turned to the man and replied, “My child, [that is the cross you brought in with you]. It is the burden you already carry.” ~Author Unknown~

[“My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Jesus]

Submitted by Debra Stitt to https://www.all-creatures.org/stories/theburden.html

Secure The Perimeter

Take positive steps to secure your thought life perimeter (Phi 4:8,9). #SecureThePerimeter https://www.bible.com/97/php.4.8-9.msg

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Keeping covenant with my soul to maintain a righteous thought life requires more than deciding NOT to do this, that or the other thing. That is part of the equation. The other part is to be proactive with things I WILL do.

Paul tells me here to refocus my thoughts on things that are honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable – things of excellence and worthy of praise. If I practice such things they will become my habit, making my thought life more righteously oriented. It comes with a promise: God will stand with me in securing for me a perimeter of righteousness.

What steps will help me secure the perimeter of my thought life? It’s like a three-legged stool: study God’s word, pray and worship together with other believers. Lord, as a sentry on the wall, I will take steps daily to secure my perimeter.

Truth Speak

Be clear about Scripture truth to those around you (1Co14:24,25). #SpeakTruthClearly https://www.bible.com/116/1co.14.24-25.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES

It is imperative that followers of Christ speak in plain understandable language and terms to a world without Christ, without understanding. Even the use of “tongues“ requires an interpretation to follow, that there may be understanding. The gospel of Christ must be made plain and clear.

When Scripture is spoken clearly people will be convicted of sin. They will fall on their knees and worship God…declare that the presence of God is in that place. I am thankful to attend a church like that. The gospel, Scripture truth, is made clear through many avenues of ministry. Lord, open the mouth of this sentry to speak the truth of your word, that conviction and repentance might follow.

“HOOAH!” *

Enthusiastically carry out God‘s commands (1Co 16:3,4). #Hooah! https://www.bible.com/116/1co.16.13-14.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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!”

Where Do You Fall With God?

Lean wholly upon God’s grace to sustain you in life (Acts 20:7-12). #FallAsleep #Devoted https://www.bible.com/116/act.20.7-12.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

At times devotion to Christ may come at great cost. Intense study of God’s word, time given to learning, worship and devotion. Sometimes the cost is perilous. But God is always gracious to meet the need.

After a short stay in Troas, Paul was ready to depart for Jerusalem. Believers in “The Way“ gathered on the first day of the week to worship, break bread and take the Lord supper. The room was full of people and Paul had been speaking until midnight.

The room no doubt had became warm and stuffy as candles and oil lamps lit the room. A young man, Eutychus (8-14 years old), was seated on a window ledge. As Paul had been speaking for several hours, Eutychus literally fell, asleep, from the open window. The three story fall killed him. But he was raised again to life by Paul. Paul then continued speaking through the night until dawn.

Many things in life take us by surprise. But God is never caught off guard. I lean heavily upon God daily to sustain me through many of life’s circumstances.

Room To Improve

Always walk faithfully with God (Isa 22:15,19,20). #NeverTooGoodToFail https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2022:15,19-20&version=NLT

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

There are a couple of lessons to be learned from Isaiah‘s only prophecy targeting two men personally:

1) It requires a person of enormous strength of character to serve in high office. Many have fallen from High stations – be careful what you wish for.

2) There is an independent streak in man. Men/women have a great propensity to rebel against God. No matter who you are, how spiritual you may be, it is always possible to fall out of favor with God and with man.

Lord, it is the desire of my heart to always walk faithfully before you.

The Enemy Of Leadership

Honor God with whatever much or little you are given (Isa 22:20–25). #SquanderedInfluence #FailedLeadership https://www.bible.com/116/isa.22.20-25.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

The prophecy of Shebna‘s demise in verses 15–19, continue in the prophecy of his replacement, Eliakim. These two men served King Hezekiah at the time of Assyria’s attack on Jerusalem (2Ki 18). Shebna was proud and arrogant; of no known prominence. Eliakim was a man of prominence with a known family history.

Eliakim was, by all accounts, a godly man, an honorable man…a father figure to look up to (“like a peg driven firmly into the wall”). He was given great authority (given the “key to the house of David”). But in the end, Eliakim would also fail the test of leadership under the weight of power and influence. Lord it is the desire of this sentry to honor you in life with whatever much or little is give me. Lord, make it so.

The Best Rule In Life

Allow humility to overrule any pride in your life (Isa 22:15-19). #Humility #PrideGoesBeforeAFall https://www.bible.com/116/isa.22.15-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Scripture does not reveal Isaiah’s purpose for singling out Shebna, the king’s steward (secretary). But he was extremely prideful. So highly did he think of himself that he was preparing his grave high up on Mt. Zion. Shebna considered himself worthy of the burial of kings (2Ch 32:33).

But according to Isaiah, God will coil Shebna up into a little ball. He will hurl him into a far away barren land (presumably Assyria). He will disappear, never to be heard from again. Pride, the abuse of power and influence, will not stand with God (2:11,12). Lord, may humility over rule any pride in my heart and in the hearts of our leaders.

THE SENTRY’S GUIDE TO HUMILITY:

Pray for insight into God’s word.

Spend time daily reading God’s word.

Digest the truths of God’s word.

Write a few notes on what God says.

Let God’s word control your actions.

Put other’s best interests ahead of your own.

A River Over Which No Enemy Ship May Pass

Be assured of God’s power to forgive, redeem and save completely (Isa 33:20–24). #MightyGod #Redeemer https://www.bible.com/116/isa.33.21,24.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

In the closing verses of this prophetic section of Scripture Isaiah finishes what he began to say in verse one. “What sorrow awaits you O destroyer“ of my people. The reference here is to Assyria, a pagan nation used by God to bring his people to their knees in repentance (vv7- 9,14,19).

When repentance comes, redemption and forgiveness comes. God encircles his people, his church, as if he were a wide river no enemy can cross. Ships of malicious intent will be permanently disabled, broken asunder (sails fall limp on broken masts with useless tackle). All the treasures of the enemy will become the possession of God‘s people. O Lord, you are the Mighty One; my judge, my king, my redeemer. All of this sentry’s devotion is due the God of Heavens Armies.

Kissing The Face Of God

Are you aware when you kiss the face of God (Mat 25:40)? #TheLeastOfThese #FaceToFaceWithJesus
https://www.bible.com/116/mat.25.40.nlt

MARY DID YOU KNOW…

…that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, YOU KISS THE FACE OF GOD…

[Child of God, do you know that you too, “kiss the face of God?”
Every time you feed the hungry,
give drink to the thirsty,
are kind to a stranger,
clothe the naked,
care for the sick and
visit the prisoner, you too
KISS THE FACE OF GOD – Because when you do these things with the last, the least, the lost and the lonely, you are doing it unto the Man-child, Jesus – Mat 25:40]

LISTEN:
https://youtu.be/ifCWN5pJGIE

A Place Called Hope

Fix your eyes firmly on the hope we have in Christ (Isa 33:17-19). #HopeInChrist #NoOtherName https://www.bible.com/116/isa.33.17-19.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Isaiah continues speaking to the righteous remnant of Judah. For they have trusted in God. As in Isa 32:1, their eyes shall see a righteous king in great splendor and a vast land that stretches far into the future. Not only will Jerusalem be delivered from all her enemies, but the righteous remnant shall be delivered.

Those who put their trust in the Righteous One, the Messiah, Jesus, shall also know the deliverance of the Lord. As in Isaiah’s day, a great victory over the evil of the day shall be ours in Christ Jesus. Lord, my eyes are firmly fixed on that far land where joy and hope shall never end (John 16:22).

Just Do What Is Right

You whose heart and life is right with God will have nothing to fear (Isa 33:13–16). #DoTheRightThing

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

“OMG!“ Fearful of judgement, the people bellow, “Who can survive the Holy?“ Isaiah gives the short answer. “Easy. Those who walk with the Holy and speak what is right and true. Those who do not extort by bribery or plot to do evil and violence. Those whose hands, ears and eyes are closed moral pollution. Those who do right in his sight.” These are those who have no need to fear the Holy One.

The Apostle Paul makes the same point. “Rulers hold no terror for those who do right.” (Rom 13:3). This is the man or woman who need not be alarmed, though the judgments of the Holy be all around them. Lord, you are ever before me. My refuge is in you.

The faithful prayer sentry declares with the Psalmist, “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust’ “ (Psm 91:1-2)

The Treasure Of Reverence

Hold God in highest esteem in all your circumstances (Isa 33:1–6). #PutFaithInGod #TreasuredReverence https://www.bible.com/116/isa.33.1-6.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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.

A Time To Be Silent

Learn to listen more than you talk (Isa 30:15). #GodSpeak #TheSecretOfInfluence https://www.bible.com/116/isa.30.15.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

This is a verse that has long been a guiding principle in life for me. “In quietness and confidence is your strength.“ This is the secret of influence. It has been said, “The truly wise and godly person in Scripture is not the one who always has something to say, but the person who listens to others, prayerfully considers and only then speaks in measured tones.“* Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, “let your words be few.“

An aged mentor once said it this way: “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff; nudge me when I’ve said enough.“ Lord, teach me, in those quiet morning watch hours with you, moderation with men.

He that would have great influence with men ought always to have abundant times of quiet and stillness with God.

* NIV Study Bible commentary on James 1:18-30

The Indifferent & Deceitful Heart

Worship God in sincere devotion (Isa 29:1,13-16). #WorshipInSpiritAndTruth #DeadReligion https://www.bible.com/116/isa.29.1,13-16.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

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 War Is Over

Trust God to fight for you, win for you, and destroy your every enemy (Isa 26:12-15). #TheLordVictorious https://www.bible.com/116/isa.26.12-15.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Here is the acknowledgment before God that in days past other lords have ruled our hearts (my heart). Now, in the present time, it is Jehovah God alone whom we (I) worship. There was and still is, a great spiritual battle going on for the souls of men. Invite the Lord into your fight.

Those in Christ can say, “The gods we served before are dead and gone, never to return!” The Lord himself fought those battles and destroyed the fiendish under-lords in spiritual realms. They once fought for control of our lives (my life). They are now long forgotten. Jesus has made of us a great nation (Spiritual Israel, the Church). Lord, my strength and hope is in you. You are my victory to the end.

Post Election Remedy

Keep your mind and heart laser focused on God (Isa 26:1–4). #MindStayedOnGod #PeaceOfGod https://www.bible.com/116/isa.26.1-4.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

“Thou, oh Lord, will keep him/her in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon/supported by God.“ This reminds me of the Apostle Paul‘s words, “What can separate me from the love of God? Absolutely nothing“ (Rom 8:36–38). My peace, my trust in God, remains undisturbed, no matter what the challenges to my life.

I will not be agitated by any hurt, sickness, bereavement or failure. I will not be moved by the affairs or persecutions of men. My faith will not be shaken, nor will it be pridefully exalted by the results of an election. My mind is steadfast and laser focused on God who is my Eternal Rock. Lord, the sentry will say with the Psalmist, “I shall not be moved“ (Psm 62:6).

Thundering Joy

Oh, that you might give praise to the Lord of Glory (Isa 24:13-16). #SongsOfPraise #GodAloneIsWorthy https://www.bible.com/116/isa.24.13-16.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

“Only a remnant is left.” In judgment, none survive, except a remnant. Child of God, there is hope. Like a few stray olives on the tree or a few grapes on the vine, after the fury of the harvest, there remains some life. Solitary as they may be, a little fruit remains.

The remnants of God’s vine salute the Righteous One, the Lord of Majesty, the Lord God of Israel. The shouts of praise and songs of joy thunder through the earth and exalt the King of Glory. All praise to him who sits on the throne of heaven. Lord, with hands lifted, the sentry’s voice joins the choruses of heaven in praise of your glory.

“Revival Held Over”

Believe God will do far beyond what we ask or think (2Ch 30:23,25–27). #GreatExpectations #BelieveGod https://www.bible.com/116/2ch.30.23,25-27.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

When a godly leader (King Hezekiah) followed God‘s leadership, went against conventional wisdom, good things happened. He called the people to return to God (v6). After a week long celebration of God‘s redemption (revival) the people decided to EXTEND THE CELEBRATION another week.

There was great purification from sin, people and priests were getting right with God. The revival exceeded anything ever seen before. In the end, God made good on the promise of 2Ch 7:14. Healing was on the way. God heard their prayer from heaven (v 27). Lord, turning my sentinel’s heart to you, I am prepared for you to exceed all my expectations (Eph 3:20).

The Greatest Sacrifice Of Men

Seek for genuine repentance, consecration and worship toward God (2Ch 29:35,36). #Repentance #consecration #revival #awakening https://www.bible.com/116/2ch.29.35-36.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Sacrifice, to be meaningful to God, must be preceded by sincere repentance and consecration (Psm 51:17; Pro 21:3; 1Sa 15:22). King Hezekiah led the priests, Levites (temple servants) city leaders and people to turn from their sin (repentance). Then he led them to set themselves apart for God‘s purposes (consecration).

Finally, came the offering (sacrifice) to God, to present a token of thanksgiving to God for atonement of sin (today, reconciliation through Christ to God). For Hezekiah (for all of us today) this results in an abundance of sacrifice; much joy, praise and worship. There is no greater sacrifice than that of a humble broken heart toward God and subsequently toward others. Lord, the prayer of this sentry is that men would find themselves right with you and with each other.

When Leaders Repent

WITH POST SCRIPT ADDED**

Consecrate yourself to God; worship & praise him (2Ch 29:20,24,27-30)#DedicatedToGod #PraiseTheLord #WorshipThe Lord https://www.bible.com/116/2ch.29.20,24,27-30.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Sixteen days after the Lord’s Temple was re-opened it had been cleansed of every defiled object (inside and out). The very next morning King Hezekiah had priests and Levites in their positions. Every city official was summonsed to be in the Temple. King Hezekiah himself led the procession.

Burnt offerings and sin offerings were made, consecrating the whole throng of leaders to God. Then there was a “joyous“ sound of praise and worship. The entire assembly sang, played instruments and read Psalms. They worshipped. How could the scene of repentance of leadership possibly be described? Only experienced. Lord, may our leaders (I myself) know such a repentance.

** I am encouraged to write the following Post Script: Eight hours after this post was published I heard Vice President Mike Pence speak to The Family Leader Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa. He spoke of a night in the 1970s when he, as a nineteen year old young man, gave his life to Christ. He told the audience that there are times when we feel God has abandoned us and is no longer working. But, he said, God is always working. We ought never give up, continue in faith and in prayers. He called the nation to, “humble themselves, and pray and seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways, then God will hear [as he always does] from heaven, and will forgive [our] sin and heal [our] land.” This is what it looks like when godly leaders call for and lead a nation to repent.

When God Cleans House

Open your heart to the cleansing work of God’s Spirit (2Ch 29:15-17) #Revival #SpiritualAwakening #Repentance #SurrenderToGod https://www.bible.com/116/2ch.29.15-17.nlt

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

When God sends revival he moves the hearts of those he will use to begin to purify, clean out, their own hearts. He calls them to rid their hearts of anything standing between them and God. Like pride, self importance, jealousy, envy and lust; taking God (his blessings) for granted, selfishly consuming personal pleasures and insensitivity to the needs of others, et al.

When revival comes, God calls those who lead to make him the priority in lifestyle and in worship. God calls them to clear the temple of their own hearts of all that defiles and rivals him. He calls them to make ready the way for others to come. Lord, cleanse the heart of this sentry, that I may not be a hindrance to revival.

Is Revival, Awakening Happening?

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.

Personal Cathedral of Praise

Come, seek that place of personal praise to the Lord for all he has done (Rom 16:25-27) #AllPraiseBeToGod https://www.bible.com/97/rom.16.25-27.msg

Cowboy Cathedral (c)
Bruce R Greene

MORNING WATCH NOTES:

Reading Paul’s final words in the Romans epistle causes me to pause and reflect on my many weeks of journaling through this letter. H.C.G. Moule* suggests that these final words were written by Paul’s own hand as he sat quietly before the manuscripts. Imagine Paul sitting in silence, as all of his associates, friends, have for the moment, left him alone.

Perhaps Paul retraces the themes of this letter once more. Inspired again, he takes pen in hand. Then, with dim eyes and intensity in his soul, he inscribes a most wonderful closing hymn of praise to God. We leave Paul here, in his personal cathedral of praise to the Lord. I too, sit quietly in worship before this same Lord.

*Epistle To The Romans, “The Expositor’s Bible”