“Day after day, my Lord, I stand on the watchtower; every night I stay at my post.” (Isaiah 21:8)
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42)
To keep watch is a gospel command. We watch because we must look for our Lord.
To watch means we are attentive. We have learned to see, notice, and understand meaning. We have trained our senses and our spirits to attend to the Lord.
We have become aware of His character, discerning what is Him and not Him. We have learned to look in the right places for where He chooses to dwell and what He chooses to do.
We have attuned our awareness to find unexpected signs of His presence, not missing Him anywhere. We have turned away from what is not Him, letting go of false signs, false ways, and false Messiahs with their misdirected promises.
We keep watch day and night, like a night watchman looking for any sign of anyone or anything. Because we know our limitations, we are constantly vigilant for Him.
Lord, give us grace to look for You. Keep us watchful and attentive to You.
Many of us have heard the old proverb about power and might coined by Lord Acton in the 19th century:
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
We know that power and might can be dangerous. In some ways, we all want to be mighty or powerful, whether it’s in our social group or in our schools or on social media platforms or at our workplaces. We are drawn to power.
But at the same time we know power changes people, including us. We have seen certain people we love and respect become people we don’t like because of their power or influence. We are scared for some people to have too much power because we are terrified of what they might do with that power.
Because of this, we look for right and good people to wield might or power. But still, we often experience the disappointment that even people we thought were good or right sometimes lose their way in might and power, becoming overwhelmed, disoriented, or deformed by the weight of power and might.
Power is both attractive and scary.
When we look at the words about the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6-7, we see that the Messiah will be a Mighty God who rules with power in a very specific way:
“He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:7)
The Messiah will rule with might, but that might will be wielded with justice and righteousness. In contrast to the kings of Israel and the surrounding nations of Isaiah’s time, the Messiah will be a different sort of king who wields might in a different sort of way.
The different way is what we see in Philippians 2:5-11. The Messiah will turn away from the alluring influence of false, earthly power by letting go of glory and choosing humility. The Messiah will fully enter into the reality of human life, specifically by taking on human form, even as a servant. The Messiah will make a way through the morass of sin, evil, and death that saturates human nature and experience, opening up a salvation highway through His surprisingly powerful death on the Cross.
And it is because of this different way of wielding power that the Messiah is the Only One worthy to rule and reign with might. Listen to how Paul describes this in Philippians 2:9-11:
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
This King is worthy to rule and reign. This Messiah is mighty…mighty enough to handle power and rule righteously and justly forever. This Messiah is mighty and is exactly the sort of King we would want to have rule and reign over us. Jesus is the only one who is not absolutely corrupted by absolute power, instead being the absolute King with absolute power who absolutely reigns in absolute goodness and absolute holiness.
This is what this season is all about…receiving and celebrating the Mighty God who is worthy to reign over all.
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)
Jesus demands our first love and allegiance. He has not come to be one among many loves but first over all loves. Even our familial ties—the closest of our relationships—must fall lower in priority than Jesus, who is Lord.
Who or what do we love most in our lives? If the decision was before us and we had to choose between that person or thing and Jesus, which would we really choose? We may readily say it would be our Savior, but does our daily life, use of time and money, and all other pursuits show that to be true?
Jesus calls us to a sacrificial life in pursuit of Him. This is a life that may appear as a cross-marked life or a losing life, but that is only because what we often call “life” is not truly life in God’s way. Jesus must first be the touchstone of all existence for us and when He is that we will begin to see what true life is all about.
Are we willing to “die” as we turn toward Jesus? What are we still grasping that we need to release before Him?
Dear Milwaukee friends, I want to invite you to join me, Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God, and Pastor Randy Knie of Brew City Church as we seek to catalyze a 24-7 prayer movement in Milwaukee during April. Many churches and Christians are already praying, so let me encourage you to sign up for a one-hour slot to pray here.
You can also watch the video here for a little more background.
As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times related to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, I want to invite you to worship with us at Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home. On Sunday beginning at 8 am, we will stream our weekly worship service for you to watch at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts.
As this is a new endeavor for Eastbrook, we expect that there will be some technical issues that we will need to address. Please let us know your experience by emailing us here. You can also access or download the service directly via Vimeo here.
If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Regular updates on COVID-19 and coronavirus impact for our church activities can be found here.
Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this critical time. Please give online or send in a donation to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.