This morning as I was reading my Bible, I was stopped in my tracks by four simple words: “You are in error…” Jesus was warning the Pharisees, some of the most religious people who have ever lived. Their error? Jesus speaks plainly: “Because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (NIV). The Greek word for error is even stronger. It implies that one is “deceived, deluded, a wanderer from the truth.” The Message Bible puts it this way: “You’re off base on two counts: You don’t know your Bibles, and you don’t know how God works.”
Today is Day Thirteen of our 21 Day Watch. Not only am I watching for signs of God at work, but I’m also watching for God’s warnings. Often when the word watch is used in the New Testament, it’s in the context of warning us against danger. “Watch and pray so that you don’t fall into temptation,” Jesus told the sleepy disciples in the Garden of Gesthemane. “Watch out for false teachers.” “Watch out for greed.” Seems like being watchful against error is part of our job description as believers.
Lots can be said about the Pharisees, but ignorance of the Scriptures was not one of them. They committed long passages to memory and devoted their life to obeying the law. They even added over 600 extra interpretations of the Ten Commandments to make sure they were righteous in every way. But they didn’t truly know the Scripture, Jesus stated. And they didn’t know the power of God. They had read it, studied it, memorized it, created a complex system to obey every letter of it. But according to Jesus, they didn’t know it, and they didn’t know Him. Their hearts were far from Jesus, so how could they know His Word?
I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus’s words. Obviously, they give us a warning. If I don’t know the Bible or God’s power, I’m more likely to be deceived. But these words are also a challenge. They remind me of my need to truly know Jesus and believe in Him. Out of that relationship, my knowledge of His Word will bring life to my soul and ignite my faith. If I know God’s Word and His power, I am less likely to be deluded by the enemy’s lies.
Just one more reason it’s worth it to spend time talking to God in prayer each day. Getting to know Him, reading and reflecting on His Word. It’s why we’re doing this 21 Day Watch, alert to signs of God at work and growing in our understanding of His enormous power. Stay faithful. Keep up your guard. Don’t be deceived.
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Have you ever been reading the Bible, when suddenly, a verse seems to leap off the page and into your heart? It’s as though God is sending you a personal word of encouragement to help you right where you are. I like to call this my “watchword.” God’s Word can actually ignite our faith. Paul tells us in Romans 10:17 that faith comes from hearing the Word of God. And if faith is the antidote to fear, it makes sense to strengthen ourselves daily with God’s Word.
I’m hoping the 21 Day Watch builds my faith. That’s why I am on the lookout for ways to become more alert to God’s work all around me. “Watchwords” from the Bible remind me of God’s strength and power. It doesn’t happen the same way every morning. Some days God gives a more dramatic watchword than others. But I never walk away empty from my time reading God’s Word.
During my years of struggling with infertility, I would often find a personal watchword of encouragement that would give me hope. Verses from my Bible study would inspire my faith, just when I was losing hope that we would ever have a baby. I remember one watchword which gave me an anchor for my soul: He settles the barren woman in her home, the happy mother of children (Psalm 113:9). I sensed God encouraging me through that verse to stand firm in my belief that He would eventually give us children, which He did.
If you long to see signs of God at work in your life, I’d suggest you start by seeking His message to you from the pages of Scripture. The way I see it, God spent over 1600 pages (in my Bible) telling me of His will, His plans, His instructions, and His love for me. That’s why I go to His Word first thing each morning. I take the problems and needs that are heaviest on my heart and I ask God to speak through His Word. I also take my hopes and dreams, and my concern for people and places, and ask God for wisdom from His Word about how to pray.
Let’s ask God to open our eyes to His WORD. Before I read the Bible, I ask Him to reveal promises that relate to my concerns. My simple prayer is from Psalm 119:18: Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Dare to go to God’s Word with an honest and thirsty heart. Ask the Lord to speak to you through the pages of Scripture. I believe the Holy Spirit will inspire you with a special watchword which will strengthen your faith today, and give you hope.
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How did my car keys get there? I wondered. The keys, barely visible, were lodged under the bathroom cabinet. I happened to notice them as I was getting ready for the day. What a weird place. They must have fallen out of my purse the night before. And then it dawned on me. Because I had seen the keys, I saved myself the panic of a frantic, last minute lost key search. And since they had fallen in such an odd location, it could have taken days to find them. I don’t have a spare set, so I was especially glad I noticed the keys before I actually needed them.
We’re on Day Six of our 21 Day Watch. Like you, I’ve been on the lookout for signs of God at work. I’m becoming more mindful of the tiny ways He is involved in my daily life. Perhaps this was the Lord providing assistance and preventing a stressful situation, so I breathed a quick prayer of thanks.
Lost keys. Such an insignificant problem when the weight of the world looms so large. But small things matter to God. And answers to prayer, however tiny, build my trust. Trust strengthens relationship. And God, like any good earthly parent, cares deeply about the relationship with His children.
Daily watchfulness. Attentiveness to prayer. These simple practices can open our eyes to signs of God at work that we could otherwise miss. But the real truth is that we’re probably protected by God every day and spared from problems and dangers in ways we’ll never know…until we get to heaven.
I’d like to become more sensitive to the ways God is helping me now—noticing things I could miss if I’m not watching. Finding my car keys in a crazy spot sounds so ordinary. But this little incident made me more mindful to stay alert. More committed to spending time alone with God each day. More watchful and more thankful for His work in my life.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)
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It’s Day Two of our 21 Day Watch. Half the battle in “keeping watch” is simply having the desire to spend time alone with God. Do I truly want to know Him? My friend Sara asked God to give her this “want to” and discovered the answer to her prayer in the most unlikely of places.
GUEST POST: By Sara Miller
As this year began, I had one consistent prayer request. I kept asking God for the desire to spend time with Him. That might sound odd to you. It’s not that I’ve never had a desire or that I don’t want to have the desire. It’s just a real honest request from a wife and a mom of a toddler and a baby who works part-time and seeks a daily balance with all of her many hats. I started the year with a realization that I was at the end of myself. I needed to go before God in confession and ask Him to plant this desire deep within me and then help me live it out.
It’s been said that God works in mysterious ways. Since He answered my request by way of a moldy shower, I’m prone to agree! Curious? Well, read on!
We bought our home just over a year ago. We soon learned that our master shower tile was poorly installed. Water collected around the drain, but didn’t drain properly, so over time MOLD began to grow. We cleaned–a lot–with every natural and chemical solution known to man. Nothing helped. So we hired a “grout guy” to come and re-grout the shower. He cleaned, scraped, and re-grouted the tile and then left us with one handy hint – squeegee. It seems that the only way to keep mold at bay is to use the squeegee every day. Daily. Every day. You get my point.
It’s largely annoying to spend three minutes at the end of every shower scraping water off the walls and floor. As a mom, I hardly have time to shower, let alone clean it when I’m done. But, I dread mold. Each time I shower I choose to spend a few minutes with the squeegee at the end because I know the alternative is worse.
So, how did God use a moldy shower to answer my prayer? One day while I was squeegeeing, it hit me. Just a few minutes of daily commitment to this task clears away the mold, the dirt, and the filth I dread. In much the same way, won’t a daily time with God, even if brief, also allow a daily cleansing of my heart? Won’t a regular commitment to spending time with Him help me keep some of the “mold” out of my heart and mind, as I allow Him to use that time to fill me with His love and truth?
In the midst of a daily struggle to do it all and be it all I find God cultivating that desire within me to spend time with Him. What a blessing! God does work in mysterious ways, even through moldy showers.
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It’s easy to get overwhelmed with fear. Seems like everywhere we turn, there’s another shocking news story. Many around the world watched in horror as 21 Coptic Christians were recently beheaded for their faith. In the aftermath of such terrifying events, a couple of young moms confided to me they’ve had to get counseling because of extreme anxiety. Another woman struggling with fear commented on my age and stage and remarked that I was “lucky” I didn’t have to wait so long to go to heaven.
Dear friends, is that the best we can hope for? Biding our time until we get to heaven? How can we calm our anxious hearts and experience the peace God promises in His Word? It’s not like Jesus didn’t warn us about trying times. “In this world, you will have trouble,” He told His followers. “But take heart,” He assured them. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Surely there’s a way to reflect the presence of Christ to a world so desperate for peace. But we can’t we can’t give away what we don’t have.
That’s why I’ve decided to do a 21 Day Watch, starting tomorrow, March 16.th I hope you’ll join me! I’m asking God specifically to Open My Eyes to the promises in His Word and to signs of His work all around me. I’ll post daily encouragement from the Bible, along with testimonies of answered prayer.
Instead of simply asking God to take away our anxieties, let’s pray for Him to help us become more aware of His power. I’ve learned that enlarging my view of God is the best way to calm a fearful heart. I believe your faith will be strengthened as we keep watch together. And let’s remember, faith is the best antidote to fear.
Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to Your powerful Word and Your mighty works. Let us see the world from Your perspective. Calm our fears as we gaze upon your Majesty!
2 Comments | tags: 21 Day Watch, angel armies, angels, anxiety, Elisha, faith, fear, Open My Eyes, prayer, trust | posted in Agree with Others in Prayer, Arm Yourself with Spiritual Strength, Be Specific when You Ask, Pray with Authority, Wake Up and Pray! Be Alert