Keep the Watch and See

25 And in the fourth watch of the night (fourth watch = 3-6am) he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; 30 but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14.25-31)

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The hours between 3am and 6am.

The passages of Scripture associated with this time are numerous.

Keeping watch is synonymous with vigilance. It involves the edge where the temptation to turn away and to give in to slumber is great. Here the struggle is real not theoretical. Here the challenge is to avow or deny. Peter denied Jesus at “cockcrow” – the dawn – during the fourth watch. Here is where the saying is true, “It is darkest before the dawn.”

Here is where, “a little before dawn” Jesus made His first resurrection appearance (Luke 24.1).

The struggle to trust and not fear.

It is here that we ask, “Was that real or did I dream it?!”

It is here that the shadow of death becomes the morning (Amos 5.8). This is the place where what God creates. The new day dawns for us (Psalm 118.24).

It is the “time between times.” The liminal place where the change from one thing to another takes place. It is the place of transformation.

The threshold. The doorway.

The baptismal font.

It is here that Jesus “stands at the door and knocks.”

How can we watch if our eyes are closed? How can we watch if we are blind? How can we watch unless we can see and choose to see?

So, it is here where the heart is purified and the eyes are healed. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” It is essential to keep watch in this place. To stand and having stood, to stand.

Let us open to Him. Let us be attentive ! !

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“So be ready in the morning to come up on Mount Sinai and to present yourself to Me there on top of the mountain.” (Exodus 34.1)

The morning watch is essential. You must not face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His. You cannot expect to be victorious, if the day begins only in your own strength.

Face the work of every day with the influence of a few thoughtful, quiet moments with your heart and God. Do not meet other people, even those of your own home, until you have first met the great Guest and honored Companion of your life–Jesus Christ.

Meet Him alone. Meet Him regularly. Meet Him with His open Book of counsel before you; and face the regular and the irregular duties of each day with the influence of His personality definitely controlling your every act.

Begin the day with God!
He is thy Sun and Day!
His is the radiance of thy dawn;
To Him address thy lay.
Sing a new song at morn!
Join the glad woods and hills;
Join the fresh winds and seas and plains,
Join the bright flowers and rills.
Sing thy first song to God!
Not to thy fellow men;
Not to the creatures of His hand,
But to the glorious One.
Take thy first walk with God!
Let Him go forth with thee;
By stream, or sea, or mountain path,
Seek still His company.
Thy first transaction be
With God Himself above;
So shall thy business prosper well,

And all the day be love.
–Horatius Bonar

The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early upon their knees. Matthew Henry used to be in his study at four, and remain there till eight; then, after breakfast and family prayer, he used to be there again till noon; after dinner, he resumed his book or pen till four, and spent the rest of the day in visiting his friends.

Doddridge himself alludes to his “Family Expositor” as an example of the difference of rising between five and seven, which, in forty years, is nearly equivalent to ten years more of life.

Dr. Adam Clark’s “Commentary” was chiefly prepared very early in the morning. Barnes’ popular and useful “Commentary” has been also the fruit of “early morning hours.”

Simeon’s “Sketches” were chiefly worked out between four and eight.

Source: Streams in the Desert, March 3, by Cowman

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As I rise from sleep, I thank Thee, O Holy Trinity, for through Thy great goodness and patience Thou wast not angry with me, an idler and sinner, nor hast Thou destroyed me with mine iniquities, but hast shown Thy usual love for mankind; and when I was prostrate in despair, Thou hast raised me up to keep the morning watch and glorify Thy power. And now enlighten my mind’s eye, and open my mouth that I many meditate on Thy words, and understand Thy commandments, and do Thy will, and hymn Thee, in heartfelt confession, and sing praises to Thine all-holy name: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Source: Orthodox Morning Prayers

My brothers and sisters. The new day dawns. This prayer, along with all the prayers of the Morning Office, are to enter into, by repentance, the victorious life – the light of life – which is Christ Jesus. It is, for us, not the day of picnicking. It is the day of battle. The day to work out our salvation with fear and trembling in the arena.

11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13.11-14 — NKJV)

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One thought on “Keep the Watch and See

  1. Well put and timely. I just finished my Morning Prayer, after getting up early. I opened my mail and the first thing I read was this post. I am reminded that I and friends and family have early morning challenges. Intentionality is important here. Knowing that I have an alternative to fretting, I can have some quiet time with Him and either return to sleep or get up because He is my motivation.

    I thank you for your faithful posting of helpful thoughts. They add a dept to my life, which is sometime too busy.

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