Friday, July 27, 2012

Further Instructions - Be Watchful

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

Colossians 4:2 (NIV1984)
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

I've been looking at some of the positive attitudes that we as believers need to develop in our lives and relationship with our Lord. 

In the Dictionary of Bible Themes it says watchfulness of believers is "Alertness to dangers and blessings in the Christian life, and also to opportunities to do good.

The following are some verses on the subject of watchfulness.

Luke 12:37-38
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.
 I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 (NIV1984)So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

1 Peter 5:8(NIV1984)
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Some reasons why we should be watchful. 

1. Its part of being devoted to prayer. 
2. It pleases the master (Jesus)
3. Because we are not those who sleep we are awake and self controlled.
4. Because the enemy is looking for folks to devour. 
5. (Do you see others - leave a comment)

I was once at a church and I felt very led to walk abound the building each Sunday and pray for the church. On one of those walk I felt the Lord tell me that the watchmen were asleep and the prayer warriors were scattered and sickly. I pondered it for a while - things seemed on the surface to be in order. I found out later, that they had all accomplished their big goal of building a building. In the years that followed little by little a slumber had come over the place. New people had arrived with different ideas, wanting to change bi laws and had no interest in the past and the journey of faith the sleeping had been on at one time. I was able to talk to one of the leaders who gave me the go ahead to find and gather the prayer warriors. In the months that followed it looked like for a time that those who had labored to build the building would have to give it up to the larger company of new folks. Suddenly when things looked pretty hopeless something shifted. The new leader decided to step down and leave along with his people. Then followed a season of hardship and rebuilding. 
The slumbering were awake again. 

I believe God sent me there to wake up the watchmen and gather the prayer warriors. In that season God asked me to do more than just pray but to step out and share something that he had told me while praying. I was new to the place and knew it was a kind of risky thing to bring this to the attention of one of the leaders. I was surprised that they not only heard what I had to say but acted upon it. Which reminds me of 2 Chronicles 20. Israel is surrounded by enemies and the king calls the people together to cry out to God. A prophet in speaks up who gives them God's instruction. They followed that crazy instruction and God delivered them. Its a great story if you don't know it - check it out.

I'm not saying that I am a prophet by any means. I pray and God tells me stuff. I believe that prayer is a two way conversation. Some times I am to do more than pray, I am to take that word of instruction and share it with someone. In those instances I try to be obedient. I used to really worry that people would think I was nuts. Usually people respond with "How did you know?" In that moment they break and allow God to come in to their situation. The thing is I didn't know anything except to ask them about some picture or words that the Lord had spoken to me. In most cases I had know idea what it even meant.

There was one lady who God told me to tell her that He wanted to give her back her voice. I didn't know she had had surgery on her vocal chords. I thought God was talking about her being an voice of encouragement. 

I think that as we make watching and praying a part of our life that God begins to show us things and sends us with little nuggets of grace, or a key that somehow un locks things for people who are asleep, feeling hopeless or are in need of a confirmation to something God has been speaking to them. Be watchful, people all around us need encouraged. Your word of encouragement might be what it takes to nudge someone to take that step of faith and to trust God.

I'm not sure who this is for today. If God has told you to share something - take that step of faith, move out of your feelings of inadequacy and share the thing. 
I tend to be soft in my approach to these kind of things. I say I things like, while I was praying I think God showed me something. It may not mean anything but in case it does I wanted to share it with you. Most of the time it does mean something. Even if it does not mean anything, at least I have taken that step of faith to be obedient to share it. 

I also try to be watchful to see how God is moving in the lives of others around me so that I can encourage and fan the flames of faith that I see beginning to take hold. 

Kent Henry once said we are like carriers and couriers of God's presence. We are living bibles and often the only bible that most people ever read. Prayer is a two way conversation. I share whats on my heart and then I listen to hear what God has to say. 
Watchfulness I think is a demonstration that we believe that the Lord does hear and respond to our needs. That we acknowledge that there is an enemy who would love to devour. We also need to watch out for those who are younger or weaker in their faith. Perhaps we can help them miss some of the traps that we fell into along the way. 

Dear Lord, 
Help us to be present, to realize that now matters. The choices we make today and the time we take to spend with you and know you is transforming us little by little day by day. Help us to realize that we are not always able to see that transformation happening because today seems like any other day. Help us to be aware of your presence, to be watchful to see you in ordinary and in the every day moments of our lives.

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