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Thursday, May 22, 2014
"Pray For The Watchmen"
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"I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest" (Isaiah 62:6). "To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it" (Ezekiel 6:10). "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me" (Ezekiel 33:7).
Last week I visited with Richard, a thoughtful follower of Christ we see in our chaplain work. We briefly discussed the state of our country and the church. Although we don't attend the same local church nor are we in the same denomination we both attend churches that would be labeled as "evangelical". Sadly many evangelical churches and ministers, in a quest for numbers and social acceptance in an increasing post-Christian culture, have remained silent or in too many cases have acquiesced to the radical changes in our culture. Richard, with a smile on his face quizzed me, "Do you know what they call those folks?" I shook my head and he responded, "evanjellycal", in the sense that too many leader's convictions to uphold truth are like jellyfish, no backbone!
Today through Friday afternoon I (Stephen) am attending a pastor's briefing in Washington DC sponsored by Watchmen Pastors. Since I have attended these briefings for several years I am confident that I will again be challenged to stand with other God-fearing pastors in faithfulness to the Lord and His Word, in our testimony, and through prayer while confronting our secularized society as we, like watchmen, warn God's people and all who will listen.
Today's texts are two powerful portions of Holy Scripture about a watchman who was called to give warnings from God. We still very much need these types of obedient watchmen who faithfully proclaim God's Word.
I observe and frankly apply it to my own ministry that it's much easier to comfort and encourage than to confront and warn. But we need warnings! We need preachers who will faithfully confront sin and warn of consequences. However when we hear spiritual warnings we can either give attention or grow annoyed or even offended at the message directed to us. We can either accept and act or react by rejecting the warning. That's what the second verse teaches and we can easily see that in our own time. "To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it" (Ezekiel 6:10).
The watchman, Ezekiel, served our Lord during a time of great transition. God's people had been taken captive to Babylon but He hadn't forgotten them and still had a plan for their lives (corporately and individually).
A fellow prophet, Jeremiah, had already pointed this out in a very familiar passage, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). Jeremiah served just prior to the Babylonian exile and Ezekiel spoke God's truth to the people in Babylon during the exile. His prophecies are sometimes quite figurative, and can be hard to understand, but he had a powerful message for all who would listen! It's for those who will read and listen to his message today as well.
The very heart of Ezekiel's mission from God is expressed in the third verse, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me." The word "watchman" is used both literally and figuratively in the Old Testament. Literally it has the sense of a lookout, often on the city wall. It means to "lean forward, to peer into the distance."
In the figurative sense it conveys one who has the bigger picture, a bigger perspective (particularly God's). God had called Ezekiel to be a watchman and a part of the watchman's message was to give warning.
There are many circumstances in which people do not like warnings. (An ancient Jewish tradition asserts that Ezekiel was slain by his own people.) The essence of the message of the false prophets that Ezekiel confronted was their message of "peace, when there is no peace" (see Ezekiel 13:10). According to the apostle Paul this will also be a message of end time error preceding the coming of our Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
Today I call on each of you to live as "watchmen" in our day. Provide to those around you the perspective God provides through the Word, which will certainly include a serious warning of His impending judgment. But it will also include a message of hope for those who turn to God (Ezekiel chapters 37-48). Hear the voice of the Lord and be His "faithful watchman". Let your message to the world be filled with both warning and hope!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it is through devout godly people that You repair, restore and rebuild lives as they raise up the unchanging, ever relevant ancient words of Scripture. It takes faithful watchmen who serve with great vigilance, untiring in presenting the unchanging truths of the Holy Scriptures to a world that is continuously and increasingly desecrating that which was once sacred. Father, help us to be watchmen for our families, co-workers, and friends as we carefully measure the present principles of this world by the eternal principles established in Scripture. Grant us courage to speak out when the foundations are being shaken just as the watchmen were not silent night or day. We do not stand in the gap alone but You, our Father, are with us and we stand in Your courage and strength! Amen.
Note: Due to my attendance at the pastor's briefing mentioned in today's message we will not be posting a message on Friday May 23, 2014. Expect the next Daily Encouragement post on Monday, May 26. (Although Brooksyne and I prepare these messages together she has shown no inclination to learning the technical aspects of posting the messages!)
I am attending this meeting with my pastor John Keefer and my brother Pat Weber, who is a pastor in the Lehigh Valley in eastern PA. Alan Walter, a pastor from Lebanon, PA will also be joining us this year. We welcome any who would care to pray for us and the many other pastors from all over America who will be in attendance.
The "Watchmen On The Wall" pastor's briefing in Washington DC encourages pastors to be a "watchman pastor", standing up for Biblical values and against the tide of evil that is sweeping our land.
On Tuesday, May 21, a judge here in Pennsylvania ruled that the traditional and Biblical understanding of marriage was "unconstitutional". To use the proverbial phrase, our founding fathers must be "spinning in their graves". The judge wrote, "We are a better people than what these laws represent, it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history." We can only wonder how much longer our nation can survive with such a mockery of God and His laws.
The conference is full this year, I believe in part due to a sense of urgency regarding the state of our land. This conference will challenge pastors to take a strong, uncompromising stand for Biblical truth.
Our basic commission as "Watchman Pastors" in this regard is to:
1) Pray for our nation.
2) Preach the Bible without apology.
3) Partner with those who also hold Biblical values.
Pastor friends: I urge you to examine this ministry and join me in being a "Watchman Pastor".
Lay people: Consider sending this message to your pastor with a note asking him to look into this.
What is a Watchman Pastor? The name is from Isaiah 62:6: "I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest." A Watchman Pastor is called to do the following:
* Watch what is going on in the culture.
* Pray for the wisdom to engage Biblically, courageously, and winsomely.
* Sound the alarm from the pulpit.
* Take a bold stand with others to defend and advance faith, family, and freedom.
Watchmen On The Wall Overview Video
Brooksyne's Note: We can be thankful to God for His repeated warnings in Scripture that inform, instruct and protect us from the evil one. May we not ignore His warnings or procrastinate in our obedience to His commands. Pray that God will embolden our spiritual leaders to be fearless watchmen who speak out His truths, even when they're not popular or politically expedient.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Preacher, Tell It Like It Is" Video Greater Vision As a chaplain I am no longer a pastor of a local church but rather have a pastoral role out in the highways and byways of life where many are weary and sad. I do miss preaching and this Sunday have the opportunity to do so in our home church. Now as far as congregational life I do more listening than preaching and can state as a listener that sermons that convict and challenge are appreciated. This song reflects the truth that others feel this way as well.
"Out In The Highways" Video Steven Curtis Chapman
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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