Tag Archives: watching

Watch for His Return!

Look Up! The personalized license plate on the car in front of me caught my eye. Look up!  Two simple words right out of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus was reminding His followers to pay close attention to the signs of the times.  “So when all these things begin to happen,” He explained to them, “stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28 NLT).

Today is Easter, a time when believers all over the world celebrate a risen Savior.  The Resurrection of Jesus changed everything. But there’s more to the story. He is coming back.  How fitting that Easter Sunday is the final day of our 21 Day Watch. We’ve been watching for signs of God through His Word and His work all around us. And we’ve been alert to His perspective of world events—God’s big picture.

Jesus also wants us to be watching for His return.  But I’ve noticed that some people become so fascinated with the “end times” that they retreat into a form of  spiritual escapism. Is this the best we can hope for?  Clinging by a thread of sanity while we wait for Jesus to rescue us from this messy world? Surely we were made for more.

What does it look like to be ready for Jesus’s return?  I like Paul’s instructions to the church in 1 Peter.  These believers were fiercely persecuted.  They were always in danger of getting killed so they had plenty to worry about.  Early Christians lived  in continual readiness for Jesus’s soon return.  So Paul reminds them to live with the end in mind.  But he doesn’t tell them to become obsessed with signs, retreat to a survivalist community, stockpile their goods or take up arms. He simply tells them to be ready by living as faithful believers:

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:7-10 NIV).

Dear friends, we are Easter People! We’re to remain alert and watchful so we can pray, for prayer helps us stay connected to God. We’re to love each other in community, forgiving one another, inviting others into our homes. We’re to serve each other and share God’s grace using the gifts and resources He’s given to us. We’re to share His Good News with the least and the lost at home and around the world.

We keep watch for Jesus’s return by being faithful.  We remain ready by doing the same things  we should be doing every day. We keep watch by doing God’s will. Then when Jesus comes, He’ll find us ready for His return.

Come soon, Lord Jesus. Keep us alert and watchful. And while we wait, may we be faithful to answer Your call to a hurting and broken world.  Because of Easter! 





Day Twenty: Share His Joy

This is Day Twenty of our 21 Day Watch.  I hope you’ve noticed God in ways you may have missed if you hadn’t been watching.  I’ve become more aware His tiny whispers and answers to my prayers.  And it’s made me wonder.  How many times have I missed seeing God simply because I wasn’t watching? Watching takes energy. It requires alertness.  But it’s so worth the effort.

We become more watchful when alert to danger. For Christians in many parts of the world, these are dangerous times. Kenya is still reeling from the Somali terrorist attacks on Christian college students that claimed over 150 innocent lives. Reports continue to pour in from Iraq and Syria where Christian communities suffer at the hands of ISIS. We’re tempted to become anxious when overwhelmed with so much bad news.

But we can learn to calm anxiety by enlarging our view of God. That’s why we’re asking God to open our eyes to His Word, His work, and His big picture.  I remind you: God is not caught off guard by troubling world events. Nor is persecution of Christians a new thing.  As Paul tells Timothy about the many hardships he’s endured for his faith, he reminds him:  Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12) NIV).  Now that’s a Bible promise we don’t often hear often quoted.

I have traveled to many countries where Christians are persecuted and I’ve noticed a curious thing. In places where believers suffer most intensely, their joy seems to be the most vibrant.  For example, I was talking to a friend from another country whose ministry takes him throughout the Middle East.  I wondered how he dealt with fear, since he faces danger daily. He was rather nonchalant as he answered, saying simply, “Oh, I’ve just learned to trust God for protection.”  Then he went on to talk about his absolute joy at seeing so many in his part of the world who are meeting Jesus for the first time.  I noticed the same joy and lack of fear among evangelists I met recently in India.  These men and women were so filled with excitement as they watch the growing number of new believers, despite growing persecution.  Do you suppose their joy in sharing the Gospel makes anxiety about personal issues seem small in comparison?

Their example has inspired me to become more watchful for opportunities to share God’s love with others.   I have a friend who is getting to know Jesus for the first time, and I must admit. Seeing her faith spring to life gives me incredible joy.  I suspect Jesus is especially close by when we’re telling others how much He loves them.  After all, it’s what He’s called us to do.  And as we’re faithful to His Great Commission, He promises to be with us.  He gives us His Presence.  We share in His joy. What on Earth could be better than that?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV).





Day Eighteen: Don’t Say It, Pray It

 How often has your mouth gotten you in trouble? Words can do damage. Maybe you’ve heard this saying: It’s easier to get into trouble than to get out of it. The same is true with our words.  Once we’ve spoken them, we can’t take them back.  During our 21 Day Watch, we’ve been watching God.  But did you know that He’s also watching us?  The Bible teaches us to pray that He would especially help us watch our words:

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;  Keep watch over the door of my lips (NKJV Psalm 141:3).

This verse is my watchword for today.   I’ll be spending time with an extended family member who is wrestling with lots of personal issues.  I’ve asked  Lord to help me watch what I say.  I mean well, but over the years, my words have caused little change.  My loved one continues to make poor choices which have impacted her life and her family. For whatever reason,  I’m not the right person or it’s not the right time to say the hard things that need to be said.  This happens sometimes with the people we love most.  Do you have someone like that in you life?

I’m learning that sometimes it’s better to “pray it before I say it.”  If the person is not ready to hear what we have to say, or we can’t find the right words, we can pray first and trust God.  We can pray for Him to soften their heart.  Pray for them to listen to the Holy Spirit.  Pray for others to speak into their life. Pray for the wisdom to know what to say and when to say it.

“Don’t say it, pray it” is a good approach difficult conversations.  Here’s how I pray before I speak:

Lord, increase my love for this person.

-Help me to get the “log” out of my own eye, so I may see the situation more clearly.

-Help me to see this person through Your eyes.

-Give me pure motives and remove any bitterness or unforgiveness.

-Fill me with courage to speak the truth in love, but only in Your timing.

-Show me the right words, Your words, that will bring healing and hope.

Does the Lord need to help you put a watch over your lips? Then you’re in good company.  Let’s believe together that He can do a miracle. That God will give you the strength to “pray it before you say it.”  That the story for your loved one is not over.  Until then, let’s keep watching with hope.