Summary: To meet the needs of a changing world we need to know where God is moving, know what God's word says and know how to move forward.
UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES
Early in WWII, baseball broadcasters were forbidden to give information about weather conditions over the air for fear it might be of aid to enemy bombers. On one St. Louis broadcast, Dizzy Dean was trying to fill in a rain delay with about an hour of aimless talk, never mentioning why there was no action on the field. Finally he just ran out of words, and said, “If you folks don’t know what’s holding up this game just stick your heads out the window.”
Sticking your head out the window is one sure way to determine the weather. But determining the signs of our time may be a bit harder. Do you understand how God is moving today?
Matt. 16:1-3 “The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red, and in the morning, today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”
Many people respond to change in a negative way. A reporter once approached a hundred year old man in a small town in Maine and said, “Boy, I bet you have seen lots of changes in this town over the years.” The old man replied, “Yes, and I’ve been against every one of them.”
Change is a natural part of life. The question is not IF change will occur but HOW will we respond to change when it does occur? Do we recognize it, accept it and adapt to it or do we ignore it, dig in our heels and try to resist? I want to look today at the story of a group of men that responded in the right way to change when it happened. As a church we need to follow their example if we are going to connect and be relevant with our culture today.
1 Chr 12: 23 These are the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul's kingdom over to him, as the LORD had said: … 32 men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do
1. Know Where God is Moving – they understood the times (get smart)
Our culture is defined by change but often the church is not. In fact, I would say without any hesitation that the church in large does a terrible job when it comes to change. Because of this we as Christians often become irrelevant to the world around us.
It is interesting that when I have given people our personality profile (DISC) test during leadership development, most people (over 60% of the church) are shown to be the high S temperament. One of the major indicators for this temperament is that they respond slowly to change. They like consistency and they want things to stay the same.
The only person who likes change is a wet baby. -- Mark Twain
It says in this passage that the men of Issachar understood the times. This means that they understood that it was a new day and that God was moving in a different way than he had in the past. The context of this passage is that in 1 Chr 10 King Saul had died in battle along with his son Jonathan. For many years Saul had been king but a growing movement had begun which recognized that God had appointed David king.
1 Chr 10:13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.
The men of Issachar saw that God had selected a new king and they aligned themselves with David. How about you? Are you following God’s anointed direction or are you stuck following a dead king? Do you understand how God is moving today or are you stuck in the past?
It is easy to become stuck in your ways and trust only in things that have worked in the past. You just assume that the way God has moved and used you in the past is the way He will continue to move and use you tomorrow. We assume that since God does not change His methods don’t change either. It is true that God does not change. However, the way He responds to each generation does change because the needs of each generation are different.
One night when we lived in Kuwait our family went out to eat. Afterward I drove home. It was only as I was parking the car that I realized I was at the house we had moved out of 2 months before. I had just gone there out of habit. I was on autopilot mode - doing what I had so often done before without thinking. I think sometimes the church is like that. It moves forward not with vision but on autopilot mode, simply repeating what it has done in the past.