The Signs of the Times: The Tribe of Issachar (2/15/15)

Posted by on Feb 17, 2015 in Sermons | 0 comments

Would you go to that church?Change won’t come from Washington.  Change won’t come from Trenton.Does Any Body Know What Time it Is?  Does Anybody Really Care???

Pastor Jim’s sermon on Sunday February 15 2015 focused on a short verse in 1 Chronicles.  The Tribe of Issachar recognized the signs of the times and they decided to support David instead of Saul as king.

Click the following “Play” button to start the sermon, scroll down, and learn more about the time…

 

 

The scripture reading was only one verse- 1 Chronicles 12:32

 from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;

 

Her Diamond Watch had Stopped Cold Dead…

Does Anybody Really Care???

ParkingLot-1200x343-IconBox_6D9A8270The 1970 hit record by Chicaco, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” challenges us to think about the things that we’re focused on.  The song includes a line about a woman who complained that “her diamond watch had stopped cold dead.”  The singer responded, “Does anybody really know what time it is?  Does anybody really care?”

The same question can be posed to the Church.  Do WE as the people of God recognize the things that are happening around us?  Do we care about the world as it is?  Are we able to leave the comfort of our building and decide to make a difference for the community?  Or are we focused on our “diamond watches” (or traditions, or comfort zones, or busy schedules,  or… fill in the blank)?

 

What’s the Point?

leisure Suit2If it was good enough years ago, why doesn’t it work today?  We fight change! But yet, everywhere Jesus went He brought change.  Early in the century, churches served the community by placing large containers of oates and water along the main road.  Supplying the people’s horses needs was a great thing back then. If it was a great idea back in the “food ‘ole days”, why don’t we feed horses now?  Leisure suits may have been the thing 40 years ago, and they worked then.  But why isn’t anyone wearing them right now?

If something doesn’t work anymore, what’s the point in doing it?  If signs of the times surround us and implore us to go in a different direction, do we listen?

“The only person who likes change is a wet baby”

-Mark Twain

Change won’t come from Washington.  Change won’t come from Trenton.  The only agent for positive change comes from Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And who has God entrusted with the Holy Spirit???  The church!  Then why are we always 35 years behind the times???

 

Issachar: Agent of Change…

Saul was the king of Israel, and things were a mess.  Saul looked pretty good when he first became king; he looked like a real king and he made the struggling nation look stronger.  But as the years went on, it became clear that he wasn’t God’s man. Most of the tribes still supported king Saul, even though they knew that there was no future with him.  But the tribe of Issachar were the only ones who stood up and said that it was time to move on.  They stood up and declared that we need change.  They were in the minority, but they were on God’s side.  Very often, the majority doesn’t have it right.

 

Issachar “Understood” the Times…

The Hebrew word used for “understand” is “benah“, which means “to have insight or to act with prudence.”  It comes from a Hebrew verb that means “to separate something mentally and distinguish its parts.”  In other words, when the Bible says that Issachar “understood” the times, it means that they took a skillful analysis of what was going on around them.  They studied it.  They thought it through and became determined to become part of the solution.

It’s similar to the word that’s translated as “compassion” in the New Testament.  This New Testament compassion means to Feel it inside, then Become the Answer.

The sons of Issachar had analyzed their times and he perceived correctly what these times were all about.  It was obvious to them that Saul had not been a good king and that there was no established dynasty to keep the kingship in Saul’s tribe of Benjamin.  They perceived that it was time to move on; to put away the oats and leisure suits.  They recognized that David was God’s answer.

 

Do Today’s Times Understand the Church?

The mission of the church is to give people Jesus.  The world needs hope.  The world needs salvation.  As the Church, we know that the answer is Jesus Christ.  But how do we fulfill that mission?

“I’m saved and I’ve been washed by the Blood of the Lamb.”

Most of us (siting in this sanctuary) understand what that means.  But to those who are outside our walls, this is just “church talk.”  Saying that you’re “Born Again” (to many people) is like the pretty lady talking about her diamond watch.

Is the church relevant in the world?  Are we making a difference?  Does anybody really care about the church?

The Gospel hasn’t changed, but the way we communicate it changes all the time.  The gift is the same, but the packaging changes.  We must become a “Conversational Christian”;  to speak where the rubber meets the road.  To keep away from “church talk.” Even as the world changes, we must be in those same kinds of places where Jesus went.  Jesus faced his day’s “religious leaders” who misunderstood Him and opposed Him.  And in a similar way, we must be willing to step outside of our own walls and connect with people who don’t “speak our religious language.”

In the movie “Field of Dreams,” a Voice repeatedly whispered to Ray Kinsella, “If you build it, he will come…  If you build it… he will come.”

Somehow we have come to the idea that if we build “it”… if we build a church, do a lot of things, keep the parking lot full…  if we do a great job of “Doing Church,” people will come.  But people won’t come to church unless we give them a reason.  Is there a reason to be part of our church?  Are we relevant?

Jesus took the Old Testament, and filtered through grace, He put it in a package that people could understand.  He came to fulfill the Old Testament, not abolish it.   In the same way, we can’t just tell people that “I’m saved by the bold of the Lamb,” we’ve got to show the church that Jesus makes a difference in our lives.  Personal stories.  Hope.

The story is told of a professional golfer who attempted to teach President Grant the game of golf. This golfer visited the White House, and as the president watched, he teed up a ball on the White House lawn. He took a mighty swing with his driver… and missed. After an uncomfortable moment (“just a warmup stroke”), he swung again…. and missed again. This happened several times, until the president remarked, “There seems to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.”

In the same way,  the church can be very active and do a lot of things.  But are we making a difference in the lives of real people?  Does the world fail to see the purpose of the Church?  We don’t offer a country club.  We are a gathering of people who are all on the same scale on God’s eyes.  We are no better or no worse than anyone else in the world.

Busy but mis-understood…

Bulletin Bloopers abound on the Internet.  Here are a few:

Don’t allow worry or stress kill you… Let the church help!
Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa!
Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7:00 – 8:30. Please use the back door.
Ushers will  eat latecomers.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.
There will be a potluck supper at the church on Wednesday at 6PM. Prayer and medication to follow.

Would you go to that church?  We’re busy at church, but are we busy making a difference in people’s lives?  Do we understand what we’re saying to the world?  Are we agents of change or just secret agents keeping to ourselves?

James MacDonald in his book, “Vertical Church,” speaks of a call he received from the police department asking him to come to a particular house.  When MacDonald arrived, he discovered that a teenage boy had committed suicide.  In trying to console the family, MacDonald asked them why their troubled son hadn’t just called the church for support and help.

The family replied, “Why would he ever do that?”

MacDonald goes on to say, “People need God desperately… and [the job of the Church] is to get people to Jesus Christ and back to Him in profound, life-altering ways every week” in worship.

 

Watching the Times, or Watching Your Watch?

Do we feel the need that the world has for Jesus Christ?  Do we know the signs of the times?  Or, are we busy watching our watches; biding our time, doing church, waiting for dinner or the kickoff?

God will bring people to us.  People who are wondering if anyone really cares.  Are we as the Church willing to go walking down the street and invite a person to come up to us and ask, “does anybody really know what time it is?  Does anybody really care?”   Are we willing to be relevant?  Are we ready and willing to tell them that it is God who really cares?

 


 Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…

 

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