Archive for July, 2011

WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?(Pt. 5)

GOD IS A WATCHMAN

God is the ultimate watchman. His dwelling is outside of time and the ebb and flow of Human history. He is “The King that sits above the flood”(Ps. 29:10). He is the LORD God Almighty sitting above the noise and confusion that often captivates and mesmerizes the masses through it’s lust, fantasy and enticements. He watches without worry of Man’s doings. He knows what He is about. He is the ultimate expression of the Captain of a Sea worthy vessel. He can right the tipping vessel of history, making it upright with the simple turn of His wrist, as it were, and direct it to His desired destination. (Ps. 107:23-31?).

He has watched as the curtain opens from the dawn of creation and will watch to the dawn of redemption. He will also watch the final act when the curtain closes on human history (There is no curtain call, only Judgement’s call to each player who has graced the stage of history, to give account of their performance).

His eyes watch the doings of the evil and good alike. (see Prov. 5:21) Men may be caught off guard and surprised. But God is never caught off guard. He never sleeps nor slumbers. He is not like a dumb and lifeless idol of man’s making (whether mental or material idol).

He watches to see those whose hearts are perfect toward Him to help them in their faith attempt to live a life worthy of the light they have received. “The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth to see those whose heart is perfect toward Him, to strengthen (help) them”(2 Chr 16:9)

“The Lord looks down from heaven to see if there are any who seek after God”(Ps. 14:2) Why not? “He has put eternity in every man’s hearts”(Eccles. 3:11). The apostle Paul declared as he stood on Mars Hill, that God is Creator and Lord of all. “He has set boundaries, times and seasons that men may seek after Him. For He is not far from anyone of us…’In Him we live and move and have our being’…For we are His offspring”(C.f. Acts 17:24-28).

Throughout history in His silent, solitary watch He finds hearts drawn out toward Him. Listen to the psalmist David, “I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the riches of foods, with singing lips my mouth will praise You. On my bed I remember You. I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me”(Ps. 63:4-8 NIV).

HEAVEN’S VANTAGE

Those that watch with Him will share a unique perspective…Heaven’s viewpoint. We see this in the life of the prophet Habbakuk. From where he stood upon the earth, life seemed like a contradiction. He was watching as it were God’s people seemingly defeated. Due to their sin and failure to follow the word and ways of the LORD God, they are being carried away by GOD’S enemies, the Chaldeans (Read Habbakuk 1:2-4). It seemed that those who did not know the true and living God didn’t care or even take notice of His people’s plight. But then…something happens that changes his perspective. He says, in essence, “That in spite of what I am seeing in the natural I will be faithful to my calling and ministry”. “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint”(Hab. 2:1).

PRAYER OF THE WATCHMAN

God let Habbakuk understand the mystery of His ways. He was letting the cup of iniquity of His enemies become full before He would make them drink of the cup of His wrath. He would ultimately deliver and restore His people back to their right inheritance. He would be faithful to fulfill His Word to them. Habbakuk’s attitude changed from confusion and complaining to God to a position of faith. Turning his attention away from temporary appearances he returns to God with a renewed confidence. His prayer to the LORD God becomes a moving soliloquy, “You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters. I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound…Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will be joyful in God my Savior”(Habbakuk 3:15-18 NIV). Let’s wait and stay at our post. Our God is coming and will not keep silent.

Copyright © Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT(Pt. 4)

‘‘I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins’’(Ps 130:5-8 NIV).

If we would know the secret of stability in times of uncertainty we must get back to the ancient paths shown us by the saints of old. King David was a great king because he served a great God. In addition to being known as a man of war (never loosing a battle) he was a great lover and seeker after God. Although as king he carried many burdens of responsibility for his people, he never carried the burden long. He learned the secret of casting all his burdens on the LORD, knowing that He would sustain him. This lesson was learned by keeping a night watch. He worked and labored for Israel by day and watched with God by night. ‘‘My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning’’. He knew if he stayed in God’s presence faithfully although, ‘‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’’(Ps. 30:5).

Watching with the Lord during the night is a sign that we trust and fear the Lord for our salvation. ’’But to you who fear My Name The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings’’(Mal. 4:2 NKJV). Ruth learned of the safety and security of turning from her Moabite lifestyle and pursuing the God of Israel that she had heard about from her mother in law, Naomi. Because of her new found trust in the Lord she came under the wings, the protection of God. ‘‘The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge’’(Ruth 2:12). In what was no doubt the darkest hour of her life (the loss of her husband & homeland), she waited on God and was not disappointed.

THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

Men may fail us, but God never fails when we put our trust in Him. The psalmist wrote, ‘‘He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…No evil shall befall you…He will cover you…You will not fear the terror of night, nor arrow that flies by day, nor pestilence that stalks in the darkness’’(Ps 91:5-6a).

COMPASSION BRINGS LIGHT

As we learn to wait on the Lord and watch with Him in this dark hour, our hearts are moved with a new compassion for the broken and hurting. The prophets of the Bible were constantly calling God’s people to return to Him with hearts of compassion. Compassion brings greater light. ‘‘If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday’’(Isaiah 58:10). Compassion is to feel for and with another in their misery, seeking to do what you can to relieve it. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta noted, ‘‘We cannot do great things for God, but we can do little things with much love’’. Where love is, there is God. Where God’s love is, there is light.

GOD’S ANGEL ARMIES

For the believer, the darkness around them should not determine nor define their movement. There is a beautiful picture given in the Song of Songs regarding king Solomon traveling by night. ‘‘Look! It is Solomon’s carriage, escorted by sixty warriors…all of them wearing the sword, all experienced in battle, each with his sword at his side, prepared for the terrors of the night’’(S.O.S. 3:7-8) What beautiful imagery! I am reminded of the significance of the number sixty in the Bible (60=5×12). It is a number that speaks of grace and government. When we are properly aligned to God’s government in our lives…we have nothing to fear. His grace is sufficient for us. He has more than 60 warriors. He is The LORD of Hosts (LORD of Armies)!

OPEN OUR EYES, LORD

God’s people experienced God’s supernatural intervention. One time, when Israel was surrounded by the Syrian Army, Elijah prayed for his terrified servant, ’’O LORD, open his eyes so he may see’’. Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:17 NIV).

GOD WILL DEFEND HIS PEOPLE

In the last days, when Israel is surrounded by her enemies, when it is the darkest hour of her history…God will come to her rescue! Her darkest hour will be just before the morning light. He will redeem Israel. (Read Zechariah 12:1-9). ‘‘Awake, awake, O Zion; clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city…. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes’’(Isaiah 52:1a,7-8). Nighttime will give way to the light of His dawning for His people.

Copyright © Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?(Pt. 3)

WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?(Pt.3)

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed”(Daniel 7:13-14 NIV).

Watchmen in the scriptures are often given the privilege of seeing what is, if you please, around the curb before it appears. They often have the curtain of human history drawn aside to see both from an eternal vantage point and to share from God’s perspective things that may be presently occurring in the earth. Sometimes they are also given to see and understand things that are yet to come.

Daniel was one of the great watchmen of the Bible. Taken into captivity by Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar, he was made to serve in his royal court for this foreign king. But a careful reading of the story of Daniel’s life reveals that he really was the LORD God’s ‘‘Trojan Horse’’. Although it would seem like the most difficult set of circumstances, God never leaves Himself without witness. He would use Daniel and his people’s captive condition to bring glory to His Name.

PROMOTION

Daniel and his Hebrew friends were promoted into positions in Babylon’s government. They were trained and tested and exalted to special rank and position in the royal court of Nebuchadnezzar. The king recognized that their wisdom, understanding and skills were far superior to his hired magicians. This is very important in a day when many people wonder as to the appropriateness of God’s people involved in earthly governments, working for moral and just causes. The fact of the matter is that God placed Daniel(and others like Esther, Nehemiah, and Joseph) in a high position to make a difference for the kingdom of God. God caused Daniel to be recognized as the type of man with ‘‘an excellent spirit’’, whom the king desired to put in charge of his affairs. In a world of many extraordinary challenges God is looking for and will raise up His people to positions of great influence in this hour. It was Daniel as a watchman who saw that in the midst of ‘‘world stress’’ conditions that ‘‘A people who know their God shall be strong and take action’’(Daniel 11:32).

OPPOSITION

Daniel’s spiritual position as God’s watchman brought him opposition. There were those in the king’s service who were jealous of Daniel’s promotion and favor with the king. They sought to set a trap to get rid of Daniel. They would have to discredit him in the eyes of the king. But how? They knew that Daniel was faithful in his work ethic, so there was nothing they could find fault with him there. But it occurred to them that if they could accuse Daniel of disloyalty to the king because of his faithfulness to his faith…Maybe that would work? This idea of ‘‘separation of Church & State’’ has been one of the enemy’s great anvil’s throughout history.

Daniel’s wisdom was to let God defend him and His cause. He kept praying. As a watchman, three times a day he prayed toward the City of Jerusalem…This was publicly known. Results? God watched over him because he was faithful to keep watch with His God. ’’He who watches over Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers’’(Ps.121:4). Men may be asleep at the wheel of history but God has His people vigilant in time of great darkness. They understand that except the Lord keep the watch with them it would be in vain to rise early or stay up late (Ps.126). But it is not in vain if the LORD watches with us. He watches over His own affairs and invites us to participate with Him in the Night Watch. Those who share in His work also share in His reward.

END-TIME ANNOUNCEMENT

Daniel was visited several times, in dreams, with several “Night visions”. Although at the time the meaning of the dreams and visions were difficult to grasp. The meaning of every detail were intended to remind him and God’s people that Heaven Rules in the affairs of men. Earthly kingdoms may come, earthly kingdoms may pass away, but God’s ‘‘kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations’’(Ps. 145:13 KJV).

Because of Daniel’s faithfulness as a watchman in a difficult time with a difficult assignment, God expressed His love for Him with a special insight. He was given one of the most outstanding insights into these Last days…The triumph and exaltation of God’s kingdom through His Son, Jesus Christ. Because of His victory on the Cross and His resurrection, His kingdom rule will be over every other kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14). Further it was revealed to Daniel that Jesus shares this victory with those who are overcomers. ‘‘The saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—- yes, for ever and ever’’(Daniel 7:18 NIV).   Like Daniel, Let us stay upon our watch. It will be worth it when we see Jesus.

Copyright © Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?(Pt.2)

“See I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the Messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the LORD Almighty.   But who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who bring offerings in righteousness”(Malachi 3:1-3 NIV).

“The Levites who went far from Me when Israel went astray, and who wandered from Me after their idols, must bear the consequences of their sin. They may serve in My sanctuary, having their charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people, and stand before the people and serve them. But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the house of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign LORD. They are not to come near to serve Me as priests or come near any of My holy things or My most offerings…Yet I will put them in charge of the duties of the temple and all the work that is to be done in it”(Ezekiel 44:10-16 NIV).

A HOLY PRIESTHOOD

We are hearing words throughout the Body of Christ regarding the shift or transition God is taking His people through. With a shift into a new season, there is also necessary preparation to embrace or welcome new directions in God. God in His sovereignty reserves the right to both lead out into the new as well as choose the timing of the change into the new season. If you study our Lord Jesus’ life, you will see that He was always conscious, not only of the Father’s will, but also His timing for doing things.

He neither would be pushed by carnal resigning nor demonic forces to act out of His own initiative. But He was never late to say or perform the Father’s will, bringing glory to God.

God has been taking His leaders through a refining process. This has not been an easy time. It has not been comfortable to the flesh (especially when we are taken out of our comfortable or familiar places or religious patterns).  Some leaders have tried to blame the enemy or cultural changes for their difficulty. But if you observe God’s ways in the scriptures you will realize that His ultimate concern is for His house, His people. The apostle Peter says that “Judgment begins in the House the Lord”. Afterward God will deal with His enemies.

Both the prophet Malachi and Ezekiel reveal that God has a purpose in taking His people in a refining process. Simply put, that purpose is to reveal and separate that or those who reflect His heart and those who do not share His will for His people.

REFINING SEPARATES

Refining begins by way of separation. This is God’s way. If you look at the first chapter of Genesis we see separation; ‘‘the heavens and the earth’’, ‘‘the waters above from waters below’’, separating ‘‘light from darkness’’, ‘‘day from night’’ and so forth. Separation is for distinguishing things that ARE from things that are NOT. Separation means God sanctifies His people from all who are not His people.

We live in a culture and world of compromise. Relativism and amoral behavior are what is taught in so much of our public schools and colleges. And the sad reality is that many practices in the life of the Church can hardly be distinguished from the world. I believe it was Andrew Bonar of Scotland who observed the spiritual condition of the Church of his day and commented, “I went into the Church and I found the world, I went into the world and I found the Church”. The sad thing is that the same can be said of our day and the Church in our Nation.

But the Good News is that God never gets discouraged. He takes us as we are to make us what we ought to be. In the scriptures we see that God will bring about a separation in three primary ways: WATER, BLOOD & FIRE. It is not my intention to develop each of these elements of separation, but I commend these for your own study in the Word.

The end goal of being separated from some things is in order to be “joined” to new things. Joining God in what He is doing in this hour is the result of submitting to the refining process. In Malachi chapter three, when the LORD God talks about “purifying silver or gold”, He is not speaking of precious metals but precious souls…”The sons of Levi”. These were His priests, the leaders of His people, Israel. The purpose of purifying them is in order that they bear His image and likeness, reflecting His glory.

Ezekiel tells us that those who have been drawn into His heart will have the privilege of seeing more and being more in God in these last days. They will come into His presence, moving beyond the veil of human and religious performance. They, like the sons of Zadok, “Shall be allowed to come into My presence”, enjoying true fellowship and intimacy with Him.  The apostle Paul meant  wrote, “He that is JOINED TO THE LORD IS ONE SPIRIT”(1 Co. 6:17). We can only be married or joined to One Man, Christ.  Again, these sons of Zadok were pointing to a new order of priesthood, who like Jesus the Messiah would minister beyond the veil in the very presence of God. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek(Mechi-Zadok)”(Heb. 6:19-20; C.f. Heb. 7&8).

Those who pursue His heart also minister beyond the veil of religion, as we read of those after the Day of Pentecost. “They ministered to the Lord”(Acts 13:2a KJV) as it were under an open heaven (Read Heb. 10:19-25). They are true bondservants of Jesus Christ, having but one will…To please and satisfy His desires in the earth. They have a heart like Mordecai in the Book of Esther, who did everything out of a loyalty to the king and in order to put Esther on the throne as the queen. His intercession led to her preparation and enthronement next to the king. And it also led to the foiling of wicked Haman’s plan, ultimately placing him and his sons on the gallows.  So, too, we must not look at appearances in our land today. The “spirit of Haman” will be exposed by a holy priesthood who faithfully come boldly before the throne of the King.  They are the Lord’s faithful watchmen of the night standing in their appointed place.

Copyright © Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

WATCHMAN,WHAT OF THE NIGHT?(Pt. 1)

‘‘’Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?’ The watchman replies, ‘Morning is coming, but also the night. If you would ask, then ask; and come back yet again’’’(Isaiah 21:11-12NIV).

One of the functions that was established by Israel during ancient times were watchmen. Those who were set in place to stand watch were chosen to be aware and alert to the activities and movements of the night. They were to be alert to both danger and to anyone’s approach to the Camp or the City.

The Lord said, “I set watchmen over you, saying: ‘Hearken to the sound of the trumpet’ (Jer.6:17 KJV)’’. In other words, they would remain vigilant when everyone else was asleep. Of all the hours of the day, nightime  is the hardest time to stay awake. The watchman was appointed to remain alert and not fall asleep in the face of present danger. If they didn’t let the city or community know what was happening in the night, they were said to be like “dumb dogs that do not bark”.

We need watchmen today, those who are spiritually alert and aware of the dangers in this hour when “gross darkness is coming upon the earth”(Isa. 60:1b). They must also be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s movement among God’s people, announcing the approach of the king. Jesus gave signs of His coming, saying, ’’When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’’(Luke 21:28 NIV). The apostle Peter wrote, “You will do well to pay attention…as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts’’(2 Peter 1:19b NIV).

SONS OF ISSACHAR

Israel had a special group or tribe, apparently, who were gifted and called to be watchmen. They were the sons of Issachar. “The sons of Issachar understood the times and seasons and knew what Israel ought to do”(1 Chr. 12:32). These men of Issachar were gifted to understand the times and movements of God and prepare the people to follow His will.

Moses wrote, ’’Rejoice…you, Issachar, in your tents. They will summon peoples to the mountain and there offer sacrifices of righteousness; they will feast on the abundance of the seas, on the treasure hidden in the sand’’(Deut. 33:18b-19). When true watchmen are in place righteousness and blessings are the result. Righteousness exalts a nation whose God is the Lord.

Again, ‘‘Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between two burdens; He saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves’’(Gen.49:11-15 KJV).

Issachar saw the good land and was willing to give up his freedom to become a slave. God has some who have become “love slaves” or bondservants, giving up their rights to themselves to be totally God’s alone. This is a personal matter between them and God, living only for His glory and honor. 

EUNUCHS FOR THE KINGDOM

Not only are there love slaves, but there are spiritual eunuchs for the kingdom of God (Read words of Jesus in Matthew 19:12 ). It is interesting that Daniel of the royal seed of Israel was one of the young men who were taken captives, becoming eunuchs in the courts of Babylon (Read Isaiah 39:7) God has a special word of promise for those that have become spiritual “eunuchs” for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. “For this is what the LORD says: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who chose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant –to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off”( Isaiah 56:4-5 NIV).   It is interesting to note that  Issachar’s inheritance faced toward Jezreel. There were three eunuchs (Who by implication were watchmen),living in Jezreel, who threw Jezebaal down from her high place (2 Ki.9:32).  The spirit of Jezebaal causes God’s servants to commit sexual immorality as well as idolatry (Both of which were an affront to God). This was a grave sin because those leaders who were being seduced by the spirit of Jezabaal led others in God’s house into the same sinful behavior. But,unlike others,a eunuch could not be seduced by the spirit of Jezebaal(c.f.Rev.2:20).

Those with an “Issachar” anointing or grace in their life today are a “bare foot” company.  Slaves wore no shoes…They stand, as it were, in the presence of the Lord on holy ground, waiting at attention to hear and carry out His will. This was the experience of both Moses and Joshua (Ex. 3:5;Josh. 5:15). Concerning Moses and Joshua’s ministry, we note that both led God’s people, the children of Israel, to victory. Moses led the people OUT…Joshua would lead the people IN.

WATCHMEN WHAT OF THE NIGHT?

The question that comes to the watchmen on duty in Isaiah’s time was, “What of the night?” In other words, what time is it? What can you see on the horizon? The reply given was paradoxical. “The morning comes, but also the night. If you would inquire, come again”. The answer required a response from the inquirer. It was a call to “Metanoia”, the Greek word for “repentance” which means “change of mind, or a turning”; you were heading in one direction, but you have had a change of mind. In repentance (metanoaia), our part is to change our mind about our direction in life and allow God to change our heart. According to the direction we are facing, toward the world (darkness) or facing toward God (Light), this will determine what we experience next. The Lord’s desire for each of His children is that they move towards and live in the light of His presence and love. “The morning is coming…but also the night”. May we hear the watchman’s call “Arise and Shine! For your light has come…Gross darkness covers the earth. But thy God shall rise upon thee”(See Isaiah 60:1-2). May we heed the cry and move closer to the Light of God’s Son in these final moments before His coming.

Copyright © Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com