Posts Tagged ‘watchman’

Intriguing instruction to be watchful and thankful in prayer. I mean, these aren’t two words one would normally put together for something as benign-seeming as prayer. And yet, it’s not the first time Paul speaks of danger in the prayer closet or the necessity for alertness.

Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

But is there danger in my prayers? Not hardly. At least, not at first blush. I rarely consider myself to be in deep spiritual battle. Or am I?

Is it possible that mere steadfastness, faithfulness, and consistency can make waves in the spiritual realm? Is it possible that I am part of the “transformational” by holding up my friends and family in the Light of the Christ? Is it possible that my quiet moments of deep connection to the Spirit have resounding impact? And if that is so, is it possible that there is push back that manifests in ways I do not realize?

Perhaps this is what it means to be watchful in prayer: becoming aware of the imprint of God. Watch for movement in the spirit realm. Allow the spiritual senses to become alive in prayer: not just seeing with the inner eye, but also hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling.

One of my all-time favorite devotionals is You Set My Spirit Free: A 40-Day Journey in the Company of John of the Cross, arranged and paraphrased by David Hazard [1994]: “He creates in you the desire to find Him [the Spirit] and run after Him–to follow wherever He leads you, and to press peacefully against His heart wherever He is . . . Press, and keep pressing into His heart, until you have pressed the image of His invisible nature into the substance of your soul.”

Be watchful. When this happens, there could be fireworks.

We are told in various places throughout the New Testament to give thanks, from Romans 14:6 to I Thessalonians 5:18 to Revelation 11:17. Give thanks.

I have always thought of this as something I must do willfully and consciously, but today I imagine what it would be like to be overcome with a spirit of thanksgiving. To give thanks out of a heart overflowing with an appreciation for the presence of God.

So then, the essence is to “be watchful” in order to experience the fullness of the Spirit which automatically leads to thankfulness. That’s good.

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Acts 2:14, 16b-17
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…. this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel [2:28-29]: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams….”

When, exactly, are the Last Days? Good luck with that. Theologians and other Christian writers have written volumes about this phenomenon while the Pentecostals and Charismatics have been waving the Last Days banner since the turn of the 19th century. People have been talking about the Last Days for a long time. Is it possible that we’re still in the Last Days? Have the last 2000 years been the Last Days?

In his post-Holy Spirit filling in Acts 2, Peter certainly implied that the Last Days were beginning that day. He saw the outpouring of power and the speaking in tongues (other languages) that day as a sure sign of Joel’s prophecy being fulfilled.

Here are the choices I see: either we are still in the Last Days… or the Last Days haven’t really started yet… or we’re on the other side of the Last Days. Pick your camp!

I think the disciples and newly committed Christ followers in Peter’s time, believed the Last Days were right then and that it was indeed … a matter of days or weeks, at best, before Christ would return and the world would end as they knew it. They lived and died as martyrs because of their commitment to this idea. They lived fully and without compromise.

But, in the same way that Nineveh was spared when Jonah finally did what he was supposed to do, e.g. warn Nineveh’s residents of coming destruction if they didn’t change… so has the world has been spared… for now. We are still here.

But are we paying attention to the Joels and Jonahs of our own age? Are we reading the signs of warning? Are we taking seriously that we may be on borrowed time?

There are still men and women today prophesying… seeing visions… and dreaming dreams. Their words speak of spiritual deserts, economic chaos, environmental collapse, human suffering at the hands of evil, starvation and traumatic illness.

Not everyone can be a prophet or a watchman on the wall, but we can be listeners. We can change our own small world. We can love our neighbor and love our environment. We can pray for change. We can pray for healing.

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Mark 13:34
It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

What is my assigned task? I have been a Christian for 30 years and yet, I’m still asking this question. That’s a bit absurd, I think. I know there are tasks that are assigned to all of us as believers: the great commission and all that. And apparently, I’m not alone in wondering about my particular task or Rick Warren wouldn’t have been able to build an empire on a similar question, “What on Earth am I here for?” and the Purpose-Driven Life.

But I want to play with the house and servant metaphor a little more. It’s important to remember that each servant cares for certain aspects of the house and yet, if properly trained, also pays attention to the “big picture” of the house as a whole. If a servant only tends to one small area and never lifts his/her head to look around, things could get off balance, areas of the house may go unattended for a long time. Who will notice?

And the one at the door? The one whose role it is to watch. What exactly is the watchman watching for? Certainly, the watchman is looking for signs of the returning Master. And the watchman is looking for signs that signal coming danger like the Robot in Lost in Space).

And yet, I am wondering if the watchman has even a greater role: not just to look out on the horizon but also to look inside. Sometimes the danger is within the house when the servants are falling behind in their tasks or become lazy or worse, they become unwilling to come out of the house.

If we never come out of the house, we may not realize that the house could use a refresh… new curtains, updated furniture, a paint job, or a more efficient way to use energy. Without coming outside, we may miss the other people who could help work inside the house, those who could do some renovating and expansions. But of course, that means change. And so often, if we’ve stayed inside the house too long, change is frightening. We get so comfortable inside our house and like it “just the way it is.”

Am I a watchman? Sometimes, I think I am. Or maybe, I’m just a regular little servant girl who has heard the watchman calling… “Come look! Change is coming to the House.”

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