July 13: Watchman on the Wall

We’re on the “25th” minute of the hour of prayer as we look at what it means to watch.

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

Ezekiel 3:17

Ezekiel talks about the watchman and his duties. Again this is not a “security monitor” – this is a security guard. Perhaps you’ve seen this TV commercial:

I’m not a security guard – I’m a security monitor.

God doesn’t want us to be passive – He wants us to be an active warning to our community. Let’s take time to ask God how we can watch – and pass on the warning that we are given!

[17] Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
[18] When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
[19] Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Ezekiel 3

July 12: The Watch of the LORD

We’re looking at how we can spend an hour in prayer, and studying how we can watch in prayer:

There’s a phrase that’s found only once in the Bible:

But let none come into the house of the LORD, save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites; they shall go in, for they are holy: but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD.

2 Chronicles 23:6

Jehoiada was the high priest – he was raising Joash (similar to Samuel) within the temple. Now was time to crown the legitimate heir to the throne of David against the wicked grandmother Athaliah. This was treason against the presumed monarch Athaliah, and those involved could die. Benson’s commentary lends us some light on this topic:

Let them stand in their court to prevent and oppose any person that shall endeavour violently to break into the house, to seize upon the king, or to oppose the present work, which he expected Athaliah and her accomplices would do.

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/benson/2_chronicles/23.htm

The people could not enter into the holy places – that was reserved for the priests and the ministering Levites, but the people were there to stand, be vigilant, be counted with the priests and Levites, support them, and be ready in case they were called upon to assist in the battle.

What a great picture of watching in prayer – taking time to ask God to make us aware of our situation – and not just our situation but our pastor, neighbors, friends, relatives, classmates, churchgoers, coworkers, government leaders (especially at the local level – yes the President needs your prayers, but your city councilman and state legislators shouldn’t be forgotten either!). Ask God to show you how you can be used by Him to intercede. You may not be the one going thru the difficulties, or serving on a foreign mission field, or pastoring a church. But you can stand and watch in prayer, keeping the watch of the LORD!

July 11: Watching for Wisdom

We’re continuing in our “hour of prayer” as we look at watching. We’ve learned that there is an attentiveness aspect to watching. However as we look in the Old Testament, we’ll see it’s essential for gathering wisdom:

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

Proverbs 8:34

Wisdom is speaking in Proverbs 8, and we see that she is crying in the gates (Proverbs 8:3). Wisdom has been around since the beginning (Psalm 104:24). And God wants us to be wise (Proverbs 8:33).

How can we grow in wisdom? Can we get a blessing from God? Let’s look again at Proverbs 8:34.

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

Proverbs 8:34

Notice it involves:

  • Receiving (“Blessed is the man that heareth me”)
  • Repetition (“watching daily at my gates”)
  • Respect (“waiting at the posts of my doors”)

Make sure your eyes and ears are open in your time with God to receive what He says. Make it a daily practice to be at the gates of wisdom. And make it a priority – we’re often waiting at the posts of television, or a new smartphone game. Let’s give our respect, our priority to gaining wisdom!

July 10: Robert Muray M’Cheyne on Watching

As we’re continuing in the hour of prayer – we’re looking at Jesus’ command to “Watch.”

Peter reiterates this command:

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

1 Peter 4:7

If you’re like me, this idea of watching is a foreign concept. We saw yesterday that this is more than a passive absorption of television, rather Jesus calls us to be sober and vigilant. Peter is extending this idea – and the Scottish preacher Robert Murray M’Cheyne has some advice for us in The Christian’s Daily Companion:

Observe the duties of a believer. “Be sober, and watch unto prayer.”

(i) Be sober. Let nothing dim the eye that is looking on eternal realities. Let nothing engross the heart that is already given away to Christ. Sit loose to the dearest objects in this world. Brainerd mentions an instance of a poor Indian woman who, after her conversion, was resigned to the divine will in the most tender points. She was asked, “What if God should take away your husband from you, how do you think you could bear that?”. She replied, “He belongs to God and not to me. He may do with him just as He pleases.” An old divine says, “Build your nest upon no tree here; for you see God hath sold the forest to death, and every tree whereon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may flee, and mount up, and build upon the rock, and dwell in the holes of the rock”.

Be sober in the griefs of this world. Weep as though you wept not. This world is the vale of tears. It is a Bochim [Hebrew word in Judges 2:1,5, meaning “the place of weepers”]. There are always some mourning. No sooner is the tear dried up on one cheek than it trickles down another. Still the believer should be sober and chastened in his grief. Weep not for those that died in the Lord; they are not lost, but gone before. The sun, when it sets, is not lost; it is gone to shine in another hemisphere. And so have they gone to “shine like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father”. Weep not for those who died out of the Lord. When Aaron lost his two sons, “Aaron held his peace”. Weep not over bodily pains and losses. Murmur not. Be sober. If you are in Christ, these are all the hell you will ever bear. When we win to the presence of Jesus, all our griefs shall look like children’s griefs. A day in His banqueting house will make you “forget your poverty, and remember your misery no more”.

Sit loose to this world’s enjoyments. Be sober. In a little while you will be at your Father’s table above, drinking the wine new with Christ, you will meet with all your brothers and sisters in the Lord, you will have pure joy in God through ceaseless ages. Do not be much taken with the joys that are here. If ever you are so much engrossed with any enjoyment here that it takes away your love for prayer, or for your Bible, or that it would frighten you to hear the cry, Behold the Bridegroom cometh—then your heart is “overcharged”. You are abusing this world.

(ii) Watch. “Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Nothing is more difficult than to watch. We are naturally like him who said, “a little more sleep, and a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep”.

One thing is essential to all true watching—the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:18). Take out the beam that is in thine own eye. Not only abstain from dimming the spiritual eye, but dear it. what shall I watch? Watch the work of grace in thine own soul. Has God cast the seed into the field of thine heart? Then see if the blade appear, or the ear, or the full corn in the ear. Has your soul been made a vineyard of red wine? Then say often to your Beloved, “Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appears, and the pomegranates bud forth” (Song 7:12).

Watch thine enemies. You have enemies within, and enemies without. Many seek to take thy crown. “Cast all your care upon the Lord, for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Watch the Redeemer’s cause. The disciples slept while Jesus’ body sweated drops of blood. Many disciples do the same in our day. Lie not on a bed of ivory while Joseph is in affliction. Be one of the “watchmen over the walls of Jerusalem” (Isaiah 62). Be one of those who watch for the morning.

(iii) Watch unto prayer. Some watch and pray not. Right watching quickens prayer. Seest thou the wants, corruptions, infirmities, backslidings, temptations of thine own spirit, the heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, yea, unsearchably wicked to human eye. Watch unto prayer. Let the eye look within, and then above. Seest thou the cause of Jesus bleeding, Israel turning back before their enemies, plants of the Lord’s planting withering, many walking no more with Jesus, Ephesus losing her first love, Laodicea turning lukewarm, ministers fainting in the day of adversity, Jonah fleeing from the presence of the Lord, the hands of Moses weary, Amalek prevailing against Israel? “Watch unto prayer.”

Seest thou a spring-time of love, Immanuel coming over the mountains of Bether, winter departing, flowers appearing, showers of blessing falling? “Watch unto prayer.” Soon Scotland’s day of grace will be ended. “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain.” Hearest thou Ephraim bemoaning himself, the dry bones of Israel shaking, saints loving her stones? Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; never hold thy peace day nor night, give Him no rest—”Watch unto prayer.”

July 9: Hour of Prayer – Jesus calls us to Watch

We’re going back to the “Hour of Prayer” and starting with minute 21 – Watching.

The challenge we have today is that certain words trigger certain contexts. When we hear the word “watch” we think “TV” and we assume we can relax and enjoy. What did Jesus mean by the word “watch”?

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me

Matthew 26:38

When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, he asked his disciples to watch with him. Obviously he wasn’t asking them to watch television. We see He was discouraged not to find them praying. Is watching a synonym for praying?

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak

Matthew 26:41

It seems that watching is distinct from praying. It’s times like this that I love using Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary (free online). Webster’s is filled with Scripture and is a great tool to understand Scripture.

5. To be attentive; to be vigilant in preparation for an event or trial, the time of whose arrival is uncertain.

WATCH therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. Mat 24.

http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/watch

Jesus wants us to be attentive. Television watching, on the other hand, is associated with lower cognitive ability. Jesus’ idea of watching is increasing awareness.

Let’s spend some time today asking Him to help us be aware – we’ll spend the next few days looking at how we can pray for attentiveness!

July 8: A thankful America

A few days ago, we looked at President Lincoln’s call for fasting and prayer. Other periods of American history were not overshadowed by crisis. Yet even in these times people recognized the need for thanksgiving.

Some people know that the sculptor of Mount Rushmore was Gutzon Borglum.

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore on July 4, 2019

Most people don’t know that Gutzon Borglum called for a short history of the United States to be carved into stone at Mount Rushmore as well.

Mount Rushmore Entablature
Mount Rushmore Entablature

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the chairman of the Inscription Committee. An inscription was chosen – but the insufferable Borglum was unable to accept anyone’s art (or literature) as equal to his own. It wasn’t until thirty years after Borglum died that the history was installed at Mount Rushmore.

Before these words are sand-blasted off by revisionist historians, I grabbed a photograph of this amazing history:

Almighty God, from this pulpit of stone the American people render thanksgiving and praise for the new era of civilization brought forth upon this continent. Centuries of tyrannical oppression sent to these shores, God-fearing men to seek in freedom the guidance of the benevolent hand in the progress toward wisdom, goodness toward men, and piety toward God.

William Burkett
History of the United States at Mount Rushmore
History of the United States at Mount Rushmore

Even though this was penned near the bottom of the Great Depression, notice the closing words:

Holding no fear of the economic and political chaotic clouds hovering over the earth, the consecrated Americans dedicate this nation before God, to exalt righteousness and to maintain mankind’s constituted liberties so long as the earth shall endure.

William A Burkett

Mr. Burkett recognized a responsiblity that was uttered 3,000 years earlier by Solomon:

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

Proverbs 14:34

July 7: Lend to the poor and the Lord will repay!

Daniel W. Whittle
Daniel W. Whittle

Daniel Whittle reminds us that God is faithful to His promises!

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

Proverbs 19:17

A poor man with an empty purse came one day to Michael Feneberg, the godly pastor of Seeg, in Bavaria, and begged three crowns (15 shillings, or roughly $200 today), that he might finish his journey.

It was all the money Feneberg had, but as he besought him so earnestly in the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus he gave it.

Immediately after, he found himself in great outward need, and seeing no way of relief he prayed, saying, ‘Lord, I lent Thee three crowns; Thou hast not yet returned them, and Thou knowest how I need them. Lord, I pray Thee, give them back.’

The same day a messenger brought a money-letter, which Gossner, his assistant, reached over to Feneberg, saying, ‘Here, father, is what you expended.’

The letter contained two hundred thalers, or about one hundred and fifty dollars (over $4,000 today), which the poor traveler had begged from a rich man for the vicar; and the childlike old man, in joyful amazement, cried out, ‘Ah, dear Lord, one dare ask nothing of Thee, for straightway Thou makest one feel so much ashamed!’

July 6: Give and it shall be given you!

Daniel W. Whittle
Daniel W. Whittle

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Luke 6:38

Daniel Whittle shares this account of how someone sensitive to the Lord’s leading, gave – and received!

“‘A friend,’ says a venerable clergyman, Rev. Mr. H—-, ‘at a time when gold was scarce, made me a present of a five-dollar gold piece. I resolved not to spend it, and for a long time carried it in my pocket as a token of friendship. In riding about the country, I one day fell in with an acquaintance, who presented a subscription-book for the erection of a church in a destitute place.

“‘I can do nothing for you, Mr. B—-,’ said I; ‘my heart is in this good undertaking, but my pocket is entirely empty; having no money, you must excuse me.’

“‘Oh, certainly,’ said he; ‘all right, sir. We know you always give when it is in your power.’

“We parted; and after I had proceeded some distance, I bethought me of the piece of gold in my vest pocket. ‘What,’ said I to myself, ‘I told that man I had no money, when I had by me all the time this gold pocket-piece. This was an untruth, and I have done wrong.’ I kept reproaching myself in this way until I stopped, and took from my pocket the five-dollar piece.

“‘Of what use,’ said I, ‘is this piece of money, stowed away so nicely in my pocket?’ I made up my mind to turn back, and rode as fast as I could until I overtook Mr. B—-, to whom I gave the coin, and resumed my journey.

“A few days after, I stopped at the house of a lady, who treated me very hospitably, for which I could make no return, except in thanks and Christian counsel. When I took leave, she slipped into my vest pocket a little folded paper, which she told me to give to my wife. I supposed it was some trifle for the children, and thought no more of it until I reached home. I handed it to my wife, who opened it, and to my astonishment it was a five-dollar gold piece, the identical pocket-piece I had parted with but a few days before. I knew it was the same, for I had made a mark upon it; how this had been brought about was a mystery, but that the hand of the Lord was in it I could not doubt. ‘See,’ said I to my wife; ‘I thought I gave that money, but I only lent it; how soon has the Lord returned it! Never again will I doubt his word.’

“I afterward learned that Mr. B—- had paid over the coin to the husband of the lady at whose house I staid, along with some other money, in payment for lumber, and he had given it to his wife.

“Take my advice, and when appealed to for aid, fear not to give of your poverty; depend upon it the Lord will not let you lose by it, if you wish to do good. If you wish to prosper, ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you; for with the same measure that ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’ ‘Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.'”

July 5: God can use animals to answer prayer!

And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

Numbers 22:27
Daniel W. Whittle
Daniel W. Whittle

We read of Balaam who’s donkey had better spiritual vision than he did – but has God stopped using animals to accomplish His will? Daniel Whittle records an account that seems to indicate that God still uses animals to answer prayer!

One morning a Christian farmer, in Rhode Island, put two bushels of rye in his wagon and started to the mill to get it ground. On his way to the mill he had to drive over a bridge that had no railings to the sides of it.

When he reached the middle of this bridge his horse, a quiet, gentle creature, began all at once to back. In spite of all the farmer could do, he kept on backing till the hinder wheels went over the side of the bridge, and the bag of grain was tipped out and fell into the stream. Then the horse stood still.

Some men came to help the farmer. The wagon was lifted back and the bag of grain was fished up from the water. Of course it could not be taken to the mill in that state. So the farmer had to take it home and dry it.

He had prayed that morning that God would protect and help him through the day, and he wondered what this accident had happened for. He found out, however, before long.

On spreading out the grain to dry he noticed a great many small pieces of glass mixed up with it. If this had been ground up with the grain into the flour it would have caused the death of himself and his family.

But Jehovah-Jireh was on that bridge. He made the horse back and throw the grain into the water to save the family from the danger that threatened them.

July 4: A call to prayer for America

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

The War had entered the third year. 8,000 had died in battle in the Revolutionary War. But this War killed far more. September 17, 1862 saw 22,000 men die in one day. 214,938 lives would be lost in combat – even more would die of disease. One in four soldiers who went to war – would never return home. It was getting difficult to recruit soldiers in the North. A draft act was passed. Riots broke out in parts of New York City. The President was still grieving the death of his 11 year old son, just one year earlier. Senator James Harlan called for the President to declare a day for national prayer and humiliation before God. On March 30th, Abraham Lincoln issued the following:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.