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I wonder how observant you are.

This scenario has played out for me several times: My wife and I will be driving home, and we will be discussing conversations we have had with people earlier in the day. I will say something like, ‘that was a really good chat with so-and-so’ and she will say, ‘I felt there was something wrong. There is something troubling her’.

I hadn’t noticed!

In 2 Samuel 18: 24, a watchman for King David climbed on a roof high enough to see beyond the city walls and report on two distant runners coming their way. Another watchman did a similar thing for King Joram in 2 Kings 9: 17. Watchmen trained their eyes to observe what might be approaching the city. They gave an up-to-date news report and sounded a warning if there was the possibility of danger.

Watchmen recognised good news approaching in Isaiah’s prophecy (Is 52: 7 – 10), and subsequently lifted up their voices, shouting for joy and proclaiming peace and salvation to the people of God within the city walls

When Ezekiel was called to be a prophet, his God-given role was compared to that of a watchman (Ezek 3: 17), but in this case, he is one who hears. His ears are attuned to the Lord. What God says, Ezekiel must speak out. It, therefore, makes sense that watchmen must also be people of prayer as in Isaiah 62: 6 – 7, calling on God for the establishment of His purposes.

So, a watchman observes, hears, prays and speaks. He/she watches the world attentively to notice the things God wants them to see and he/she is quiet enough to hear the words the Lord wants them to hear. All of this occurs within a framework of ongoing prayer and when the time is right, they speak out.

I felt the Lord impress upon me recently that to be effective in evangelism, to do the work He wants me to do in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to those around me, I had to learn to be a watchman.

What does that mean in practice? I think, firstly, it is learning to notice and carefully observe what the Lord is doing around me - in this person or that situation. Not to just assume things about people, but to seek the kind of discernment that He gives my wife. When Philip shared the Gospel with the Ethiopian in Acts 8: 26 – 40, the Holy Spirit instructed him to first go near the man, but not to engage straight away. There is a strong implication in the text that Philip needed to observe and listen before doing anything else. After this, it was clear to Philip how he was to proceed, and the Ethiopian discovered the good news of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, I think it means to be unhurried in my time with God – hard to do in today’s busy world, but essential; and to recognise the gentle whispers of His Spirit.

Of course, the ultimate watchman is the Lord himself. Psalm 127 reminds us that, ‘unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain’ (Ps 127: 1b). So, let’s learn to be watchmen and watchwomen under the inspiration and guidance of the chief watchman himself. Let’s slow down. Observe, hear, and pray. Then speak, as He leads the way.

The Best is Yet to Come. God bless - Terry

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