The Watchman: Part One

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My Dad served in the Navy during World War Two. After basic training, he was assigned to patrol the beaches of California at night. Japanese submarines were known to be off the coast. Consequently, diligence and alertness were required of those on Shore Patrol. One of his additional duties was to guard a checkpoint on a Naval Base in San Diego. As a Seaman second-class, he had the authority to refuse to let anyone (no matter their rank) without proper documentation through his gate. One day an officer tried to get through the checkpoint without his ID. Even though the officer threatened my Dad with court-martial, he refused to let him enter. My Father had to draw his weapon. The highly agitated officer did not want to comply with the command of his subordinate. The incident was investigated, and my Dad was fully exonerated.

Seaman second-class Sparks (who later became first-class} was later assigned to The USS Lexington aircraft carrier in the Pacific. One of his jobs on his ship was as a night watchman. And on one particular night, he saw a Bible on a table open to Isaiah chapter 21. Below are some of the verses from the chapter:

“For thus the Lord said to me:
“Go, set a watchman;
let him announce what he sees…”
(Isaiah 21:6 ESV)

“Then he who saw cried out:
“Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord,
continually by day,
and at my post I am stationed
whole nights.
(Isaiah 21:8 ESV)

“…Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?
The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.” (Isiah 21: 11-12 KJV)

While reading the Bible, my Dad realized that he was a watchman that night.

As followers of Jesus, he calls us to “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:40.) God has given us much more spiritual authority than most of us realize. We should never let fear back us down from our assignment as prayer warriors.

It’s time to embrace who we are in Christ.

It’s time for us to find our place as spiritual watchman, through prayer.

To be continued.

Intercession Is Warfare

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“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” (Rev. 21:1 ESV)

God has a plan for the restoration of the earth. 

Before the transition from this age to the next, we have work to do, and God is calling you and I to partner with him. It is time to accept the call to pray for individuals and nations on a much more consistent basis. We need prayer for the renewal of the church. And a worldwide move of God.

Political solutions are not adequate for the healing of a society experiencing a moral and spiritual decline. Only the PRESENCE of God can fix our dilemma. Someday God’s Glory will fill the earth (Is. 60:1-2) and the prayers of the Saints will help usher in the Kingdom of God.

 We have a spiritual enemy in the unseen realm that unleashes chaos into our world daily. These evil principalities and powers are under the command of Satan. As a result of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, God has given the average believer authority in prayer. Prayer and proclamation of the Gospel are how we push dark powers back.  

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) – ESV

It’s our job to ask the Father to reveal Jesus to those who do not yet know him.

The believer’s intercession is an aggressive act of spiritual warfare. The apostle Paul includes prayer as part of our spiritual weaponry (Eph.6:18.) 

Pastor Jack Hayford points out that in the Old Testament that the word intercession “carries the concept of extending by violence or battle. (1) It can be translated to fall upon, “as soldiers do in battle.” 

Hayford also goes on to say, “As we intercede, we are “falling upon” the Adversary to see God’s will done upon earth.” (2)

Prayer: Father I thank you for those who have answered the call to become prayer warriors. We see the darkness of the hour. You have given us Your Spirit and power and authority to advance the Kingdom of God in the earth. LORD, I ask you to raise an even greater army of intercessors that pray together in the unity of the Spirit. “Let Your Kingdom Come And Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” – Amen

(1) Penetrating The Darkness, Jack Hayford, page 54.

(2) Ibid, page 55.

Skinny Jeans And Smoke Machines

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I just heard of a pastor saying that those preachers that wear skinny jeans are false teachers. But, Jesus said: “Stop judging(1) by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” (John 7:24 NIV) Jesus was challenging the religious leader of his day and I think his words could be equally applied to us in our day. Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” – (Matthew 23:27 ESV)

So, a conservative haircut or a nice suit and tie doesn’t mean all is well with your teaching. The content of your message is the determining factor if you are a false teacher or not. Not your choice of clothing or style of worship.

If you preach the undiluted gospel and Lordship salvation you can even have a smoke machine. As long as the message and music are exalting Jesus Christ.

 I use to be against smoke machines and skinny jeans myself. (And I’m not that fond of those things now.) But then, I realized that the New Testament doesn’t deal with worship styles. Culture changes and worship styles change, but the Gospel of the Kingdom never does. The truth is eternal. The great protestant reformer Martin Luther wrote hymns accompanied by music played in taverns! At one time the pipe organ was considered evil! And what about the hippies of the “Jesus movement” and their unconventional style? 

 Let’s consider the content of the message before we crucify the messenger.

And why don’t we consider becoming all things to all people that some might be saved, without compromising the truth? 

” To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” – (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 ESV)

(1), κρίνω (krinō) ‘to judge’ (G2919)

“to decide, consider, as preferring one thing over another or determining the correctness of a matter; by extension: to judge, pass judgment on, condemn in a legal sense”

“pluperfect, κεκρίκει (3 singular), primarily to separate; to make a distinction between; to exercise judgment upon; to estimate, Rom. 14:5; to judge, to assume censorial power over, to call to account, Mt. 7:1Lk. 6:37Rom. 2:1, 3; 14:3, 4, 10, 13Col. 2:16; Jas. 4:11, 12to bring under question, Rom. 14:22; to judge judicially, to try as a judge, Jn. 18:31to bring to trial, Acts 13:27; to sentence, Lk. 19:22Jn. 7:51to resolve on, decree, Acts 16:4; Rev. 16:5; absolute to decide, determine, resolve, Acts 3:13; 15:19; 27:1; to deem, Acts 13:46; to form a judgment, pass judgment, Jn. 8:15passive to be brought to trial, Acts 25:10, 20Rom. 3:4; to be brought to account, to incur arraignment, be arraigned, 1Cor. 10:29; middle to go to law, litigate, Mt. 5:40; in NT to judge, to visit judicially, Acts 7:7; 1Cor. 11:31, 321Pet. 4:6; to judge, to right, to vindicate, Heb. 10:30; to administer government over, to govern, Mt. 19:28Lk. 22:30 ”  (Step Bible)

Obedience Is A Good Word

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“Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.” – A.W. Tozer – Man Of God, Facebook page.

It seems that many in the American church have confused obedience to Jesus with legalism. I hear a good deal of talk about prayer, revival, and the rapture but very little about living lives of obedience to Jesus. My point is not to be critical but to encourage us (myself included) to return to a life of biblical discipleship.

American Christians have been distracted by a constant flow of information and entertainment. 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

When we immerse ourselves in Netflix or our favorite sports channel, our spiritual senses become dull. Entertainment has its place but not to the detriment of our obedience to God. If we are serious about revival; prayer and conformity to the Scripture could be the key to seeing a move of God. Jesus is still calling his followers to take up our crosses and follow him. His teaching on self-denial seems to be missing from much of the western version of the gospel.

Spiritual darkness is increasing in the land – it’s time to lay aside distractions and spend time with God in prayer and the Bible. And to become “doers of the word and not hearers only.” Obedience to Scripture is not legalism; it produces life.

 

Jesus Has Risen: A Quote From Ignatius

“Jesus Christ who was of the race of David, who was the Son of Mary, who was truly born and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and those under the earth; who moreover was truly raised from the dead, His Father having raised Him, who in the like fashion will so raise us also who believe on Him.” – Ignatius, (written around AD 110-115.)

Jesus Tasted Death

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…Adam tasted the sweetness of the apple and obtained the bitterness of death for the whole human race. In contrast to this, the Lord tasted the bitterness of gall and obtained our restoration from death’s sting to the sweetness of life. He took on himself the bitterness of gall in order to extinguish in us the bitterness of death.” – Chromatius Of Aquileia

“Then Jesus told his disciples,“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 16:24-25 ESV

Jesus took on Satan in head-to-head combat and won. He wrestled lost humanity from the devil’s evil grip. Our Lord lived in constant communion with the Father. And he waged spiritual war with the devil by his obedience to the Father.

Jesus took on the religious system of the day and exposed the worthless traditions of men that had taken it over. He came to offer those who were broken and hurting a new way of life. He called those that would be his disciples to turn their backs on superstitions and dead religious practices. He commanded his disciples to deny themselves and to take up their crosses and to follow him. And he is still calling us to embrace the way of the cross today.

The path to the cross is a path of submission to God – empowered by the Holy Spirit.

We need help to embrace the lifestyle of the Kingdom of God and Jesus is the master teacher. It’s contrary to our nature to love our enemies. This radical lifestyle of love can only be done by God’s empowering grace.

By the time Jesus had reached the garden of Gethsemane, he could say that the devil had no place in him(John 14:30.) He was and is still is the sin-less spotless Lamb of God.

The first Adam lost the battle with Satan in a garden called Eden. Jesus (who represents the last Adam) won his struggle in the garden called Gethsemane.

Jesus tasted death on the cross so that all that would trust in him would have eternal life in God’s kingdom.

Prayer: Battling In The Unseen Realm

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I believe in the power of prayer. Through prayer, God can either change our circumstances or teach us to trust in his goodness in any situation. I use ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ as a template for my time with God in the morning. I also use other prayers of Jesus’ in the Gospels, the Apostolic prayers, and the Psalms. These prayers can help to form our devotional time with God. They assist in shaping us into the image of Jesus. 

The Apostle Paul was clear that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood – our real enemies are spiritual beings. Evil entities influence society and the personal lives of individuals (Eph. 6:12.)  It takes Holy Spirit-inspired words to do battle with evil in the spiritual realm.

Praying Holy Spirit-directed prayer – also proclaiming the gospel to the nations is vital in waging war in the unseen realm. Screaming at those we disagree with or at the devil will not give us the results we desire. Angry rants will not bring about the end of spiritual darkness. But, a life lived pursuing the presence of God in prayer can make a difference.

Those who build their lives on Scripture and prayer are entrusted with the power of God to overcome evil. Those who are determined to push back the darkness in society and religion must discover the power of prayer. Followers of Jesus need to stand for justice and to work to make our world a better place. But gaining more political influence will not change one human heart.

Intimacy with Jesus is not an option for those who desire to walk and pray in Christ’s authority. Knowing and abiding in God is our ultimate goal. 

My desire is to pray in agreement with the heart of God.

1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him.” 

We can battle in the unseen spiritual realm by praying in the Spirit – with all types of prayers (Eph.6:18.) And with the confidence that God will use our prayers to help establish his purposes in the earth.

 In this manner, therefore, pray:
 
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 
 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 
 Give us this day our daily bread. 
 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory   forever. Amen. –  (Matthew 6: 9 – 12 NKJ) 

 

 

Unpardonable Arrogance In Prayer – Leonard Ravenhill

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“In praying, we assume the unpardonable arrogance of crying for the blessed Spirit to come with His grace—but not with His gifts! This is the day of a restricted and relegated Holy Ghost, even in fundamentalist circles. We need and say that we want Joel 2 to be fulfilled. We cry, ‘‘Pour out Thy Spirit upon all flesh!’’ yet add the unspoken caution, ‘‘but don’t let our daughters prophesy, or our young men see visions!’’ – Lenoard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries

The Blessed Life

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Blessed is the man

 who walks not in the counsel of the wicked\ nor stands in the way of sinners,

 nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

 and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

 planted by streams of water

 that yields its fruit in its season,

 and its leaf does not wither.

 In all that he does, he prospers.

 The wicked are not so,

 but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

 nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,

 but the way of the wicked will perish. – (Psalm 1 ESV)

What we meditate on shapes our minds, wills, and emotions. Our actions are determined by our thought-life. Meditating on God’s word day and night is foundational to the life of the disciple, and there is no Christianity without discipleship. Holy Scripture is “God-breathed.” God’s words have creative power – he spoke the world into existence. He raises those who are spiritually dead to life with His word. The inner life of a disciple is formed by the Word of God through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. 

The revelation of who God is causes us to get a glimpse of his transcendence. 

Meditating and contemplating the truth of God brings stability to our lives. Transformed thinking leads to a profound sense of joy and peace even in times of uncertainty. As New Testament believers we have the Spirit abiding in us at all times.

“I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8 ESV)

This transformation of our inner person is the outcome of gazing at the beauty of Jesus, as revealed in the Gospel. King David was careful to use his sanctified imagination to “set the Lord always before him.” The Holman Christian Standard Bible says, “I keep the LORD in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)

King David ask God to create in him a clean heart. God’s creative activity in the human heart never ceases. And just as our Creator created the human race by breathing life into Adam, so he has created a new race called Christians, by giving us his Spirit. We are, spiritually speaking, a new creation in Christ, whom God has created out of the midst of fallen humanity.

God has given his children access to the blessed life – which means true happiness. A key component to spiritual growth is avoiding the counsel of the wicked, at all cost. And to avoid the talk and the reasoning of those who scoff at God and his people. This is an essential part of the Spirit-led life.

As we consistently engage God in prayer, and meditation on the Scripture – our souls will flourish and prosper. Listening to Hollywood, the media, politicians, and the talking heads of popular culture can lead us into spiritual depression. But, our attentiveness to God’s voice brings a deep sense of joy in a confused and negative world. “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NLT)

Having confidence in the nearness of God is the key to our enjoyment of him. So even when His presence is not felt – we still know that Jesus is with us. And that “he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) 

The goal of our lives is to be conformed to the image of Jesus.

Sin And The Kindness Of God

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How has your sin been working out for you lately? Or better yet: how has sin enhanced your life so far?

Do I sound judgemental?

I hope not!

I must say the older I get, the more I regret the sins of my past. And I still find myself frustrated with my lack of maturity. Sin hasn’t worked out so well for me. Don’t get me wrong; I have experienced forgiveness – and I feel the love and affection of my heavenly Father. But, we do reap what we sow. And while Jesus forgives our sins we still have to live with the consequences of our poor decessions from the past.

Forgiven but scarred.

Now I don’t claim to be the sharpest tool in the box, but I have never doubted my capacity to sin. I know what I’m capable of without God’s sustaining grace. And, I am serious about that! God’s grace is not part of some religious vocabulary that I use. It’s real to me. God is merciful and full of kindness. 

The uncreated Creator is the kindest Being in the universe.

He is a forgiving God – but to only those who ask for it. And turn from willful sin.

Sadly, we live in a world that doesn’t believe in sin anymore. And that’s tragic. Because when a person doesn’t believe his or her lifestyle choices can be offensive to God, they forfeit his grace. And cut themselves off from God’s forgiveness. How we live and treat others still matters to the LORD.

Jesus didn’t die for our mistakes – he died for our sins.

 One person’s wrong choices (sins) have devastating consequences for a family, society, and themselves.

I don’t expect non-Christians to see reality from a biblical point of view.

 But how can we as believers not acknowledge the pain our sin causes God – yes God, and to those closest to us. I’ll never be sinless in this life, but the older I get, the better I understand the magnitude of my sin

It cost Jesus his life.

In our place, Jesus willfully stood condemned for every sin we’ve ever committed. And He’s given us the power to overcome sin in our lives as we grow under the watchful eye of Jesus. Growing in Christ-likeness is a marathon, not a sprint.

Don’t give up! 

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8