Summary: This sermon looks at out need to be prepared, not only for the inevitabilities of life, but more importantly for the Lord Jesus' return. It looks at the Men of Issachar, The Ten Virgins, and Zacchaeus.
Last week we looked at our need to be grateful to God when life happens. This got me thinking of the Boy Scout motto: be prepared. What this basically means is that we need to be prepared for the inevitabilities of life. But I believe it goes much deeper. What we need to be prepared for is Jesus’s return.
Jesus asked that when He does returns, will he find faith, Luke 18:8. Will Jesus find us faithful? Will Jesus find us prepared?
The most urgent need within the church is for a new spirit to prevail within it. And it begins with our understanding the times we live in. The Apostle Paul brings this out saying,
“Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.” (Ephesians 5: 15-17 NIV)
We need to be aware of the circumstances happening around us, and no longer continue to live this life with our eyes shut, as if are asleep. Rather we need to wake up and realize what’s going on, and make use of every opportunity that comes our way for the Lord, because the days we are living in are evil and wicked.
Let’s stop taking these times lightly, nor let us lightly regard God’s call upon our lives, but rather allow God to accomplish His purposes in us and through us.
To accomplish this we need to understand that our time on this earth is limited, so we must be careful how we live with the time we have left. This is something King David understood, so he asked the Lord this question.
“Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.” (Psalm 39:4 NKJV)
David realized what we all must realize, and that is our days our numbered, that we are all going to die. Therefore, David asks God to reveal to him just how fleeting or short life is.
Researchers have calculated that the average life of men to be 75 years, and women 80 years. There’s actually a clock on the Internet that ticks off the seconds while you watch your life slipping away. Talk about a depressing website.
Others have found that if you subtract time spent sleeping, working, personal matters, eating, traveling, chores, going to the bathroom, and miscellaneous time stealers, in the next 35 years each of us will only have 500 days left.
This should make us think about how much time we spend on those things that don’t count for eternity.
We need to be prepared and aware of the times we are living in because the days are evil, and we need to use every opportunity the Lord gives us now.
This is who the men of Issachar were. The story is found in Frist Chronicles’s chapter 12. David was running for his life and many came to his aid. In First Chronicles it lists out their tribes along with an explanation concerning them.
Those from Simeon and Ephraim were mighty men of valor fit for war, while Zebulum, Dan, and Asher were experts in war and wouldn’t run in times of battle.
But when the Chronicler writes about those from the tribe of Issachar, he said,
“Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (1 Chronicles 12:32 NIV)
These men understood the time they were living in and did something about it. It doesn’t speak of them as men of valor or stout of heart; rather what it does say is that these men realized the changes were taking place in Israel, and acted accordingly.
What this reveals is that knowing what’s going on isn’t enough; we also need to know what to do. Our world and the church are going through some extreme changes, some of them chaotic. So we need to understand so we can penetrate this culture with the gospel message of Jesus Christ, because it’s only the light of the gospel that will dispel the darkness of this present age.
There is a bombardment of violence and lawlessness upon the face of the earth that has yet to be matched. In fact, Paul writes about how this very thing that is going to happen in the last days. Listen to what he said.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV)