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Friday, December 4, 2015

Silverstone Inn, Lancaster County, PA 12/4/15
This morning we passed the stately Silverstone Inn near Rockvale Square.

"Connecting The Dots"

to this message on your audio player.

Note: Today's message is longer than usual due to the nature of the topic and amount of supplemental Scripture verses used.

"Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chronicles 12:32). "And do this, understanding the present time" (Romans 13:11).

We had several early morning chaplain calls yesterday and thus prepared our message Wednesday evening. Like many of you, we were following the news of the tragic Islamic terrorist attack in California. Since that time the investigation has revealed much more about the dastardly deed. We don't always mention current events in these messages since we don't want the news to drive our messages, but based on trends we expect to see more and more evil in the coming days. On my heart for some time has been the amazing failure it seems for so many to connect the dots in regard to current events. In fact for a number of reasons this latest event is very revealing regarding the blindness of so many.

Connecting the dots
You surely recall connect the dots and coloring books as children. When a line is drawn connecting the dots the outline of an object is revealed. At the completion an object such as a person, animal, or flower is revealed. I liked doing these as a child and still do from time to time. I am pretty sure the one to the left would reveal a star!

In adult discourse the phrase "connect the dots" can be used as a metaphor to illustrate an ability to see the "big picture". Connecting the dots is also a good metaphor for understanding the times we live in or an even deeper sense of understanding life's meaning.

Yesterday I read an excellent blog article by our friend David Penley in which he illustrates a spiritual truth using an example from physics called "The Theory Of Everything". He ends the post by quoting Eric Mataxes, “The name above all names, the hope of the universe, the summation of everything–Jesus.”

Bombarded with information We are bombarded with information in the age in which we live. We can turn on the TV or sit down at the computer or on our smart phones and instantly get an update on significant or insignificant news from anywhere in the world. It's amazing how much attention is given to clearly insignificant information, especially the interest that is shown toward the latest shenanigans of popular celebrities. But understanding and discerning what truly is significant, and knowing the proper response is greatly needed, a sense of connecting the dots.

There is an increasing intensity it seems; a sense I have in my spirit of some type of significant threshold being reached, a tipping point as some would say. I want God to give me wisdom to understand the present time, know how to properly respond, and boldly do so.

2 Timothy 4:3 states, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” There is a spiritual epidemic in the United States and I am sure all around the world, affecting many with a malnourished gospel message. Untold numbers fall ill from its effects of false spirituality which is being packaged and marketed as 100% pure truth. Just consider the scores of people who get their information from the supermarket tabloids!

"Understanding the present time" calls us to:
  • cut through all the clutter,
  • practice clear-minded thinking,
  • Biblically-informed discernment and
  • guidance from the Holy Spirit.
  • speak the truth in love and boldness
Men of IssacharWe have a model to follow in the "men of Issachar". Our only insight into these otherwise unknown men is a rather obscure passage from I Chronicles concerning those who joined David in Hebron at the time the kingdom was transitioning from Saul to David. It's in a part of the Bible we may gloss over following the genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1-9. There are some other powerful gems such as a description of those who had "helped David with an undivided heart" (1 Chronicles 12:33).

Let us consider the spiritual discernment of these men of Issachar, "who understood the times and knew what Israel should do." Issachar was one of Jacob's sons and his descendants later became a tribe which had amazingly maintained their distinct identity for some 800 years up to the time of David. This verse is found in a section of Scriptures chronicling David's soldiers. Two qualities marked these men of Issachar and the special contribution they made during the time they lived. They "understood the times and knew what Israel should do."

1) They "understood the times." What a powerful statement!  "Understanding the times" involves spiritual discernment, that is connecting the dots. We find contemporary events interesting yet often disturbing, frightening and even potentially despairing. But the fundamental focus on properly understanding the times is a steady, growing understanding of God and His Word. "The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure" (Isaiah 33:5,6).

2) They "knew what Israel should do." As a result of spiritual understanding and godly discernment we need God's direction in these times to keep our life, family and ministry on the right track. A powerful apocalyptic verse at the end of Daniel states, "Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand" (Daniel 12:10).

I wonder if Paul had these men of Issachar in mind when he begins a section, "And do this, understanding the present time" (Romans 13:11).

Proverbs 1:7 We want to be wise in the sight of God by interpreting and discerning the mindset of our present culture with Scriptural understanding. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline" (Proverbs 1:7).

The Life Application study notes shed further insight on this familiar Scripture: "In this information age knowledge is plentiful, but wisdom is scarce. Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot.  It is a basic attitude that affects every aspect of life. The foundation of knowledge is to fear the Lord – to honor and respect God, to live in awe of His power and to obey His Word. Faith in God should be the controlling principle for your understanding of the world, your attitudes and your actions."

Let us connect the dots today and pray that the Lord will help us to understand the present time and show us how to remain faithful and fruitful, as we press on for Christ and represent His Kingdom.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father of all wisdom, we who are children of the light, do not live as those in darkness. Instead You have shown us right from wrong, truth from error, and You have given us discernment to test the spirits to see that which is from You and that which is from the evil one. The foundations are shaking as we are flooded with a tidal wave of twists and spins that seeks to confuse or demean the believer. We clothe ourselves daily with godly armor, both defensive and offensive weaponry since our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but rather the authorities from this world. Keep our souls untainted by the changing rhetoric and sliding standards from our decadent society as we stand against the spiritual forces of evil like the men of Issachar did. Help us to walk boldly in the conviction power of the Holy Spirit today, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Early this year we wrote a message also titled "Connecting The Dots" but with a different emphasis and Scripture passages.

"Jesus is Everything", article by David Penley 

"Where Are We Headed?" a sermon (video) by Chuck Missler that is thought-provoking in connecting the dots. Of special interest was the concept of abandonment wrath.

Birth of Bluegrass sign
In Nashville last week I walked by the Ryman Auditorium and saw this historical sign. For many years now I have enjoyed Bluegrass music and especially a group called Dailey and Vincent. Interesting note - The Ryman Auditorium was for many years the home of the Grand Ole Opry. However the auditorium was initially built as a church, the Union Gospel Tabernacle.

"We're All Here To Learn
"  Video  Dailey and Vincent  We both really like the message in this song. Listen carefully to the lyrics.

"On the Other Side"   Video  Dailey & Vincent

"By the Mark"  Video 
Dailey & Vincent

"Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem"  Video 
Dailey & Vincent

"Christmas Time's A'Coming"  Video  Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys The musical genre "Bluegrass" takes its name from his band, the Bluegrass Boys, which in turn was named for Monroe's home state of Kentucky, the Bluegrass State.

"I Believe"  Video 
Dailey & Vincent  I suppose my favorite Dailey & Vincent song (with Jimmy Fortune)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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