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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Church steeple in downtown Lancaster, PA
After a meeting we attended at the Lancaster Convention Center (before covid-19) we stepped out on the top floor of a parking garage and viewed this bright church steeple in downtown Lancaster, PA.

"Connecting The Dots"
Part 1

Message summary: Let us connect the dots today by asking the Lord to help us understand the present time and show us how to remain faithful and fruitful, as we prayerfully represent His kingdom here on earth.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"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).

Connecting the dots I just heard a politician on the news use the expression "connecting the dots" in describing some aspect of current events. Many of you will recall "connect the dots" worksheets which are like a puzzle that reveals pictures once you complete it by following the numerical or alphabetical dots. Many children enjoy this and adults as well. I am pretty sure the numerical puzzle to the right would reveal a star! But I don't believe the politician was talking about that kind of "connect the dots".

In adult discourse the phrase "connect the dots" can be used as a metaphor to illustrate an ability (or inability) to see the big picture, by associating one idea with another. Connecting the dots is also a good description for seeking to understand the times we live in or life's deeper meaning.

In this technological age we’re bombarded with information. Up to the nineties we heard news on the hour on our radios or 6 PM on TV. Now our smart phones give instant news updates from around the world, along with 24 hour cable news. Some apps give notifications with this attention grabber, "Breaking News". But understanding and discerning what really is significant is greatly needed, a sense of connecting the dots.

I sense in
my spirit and in my discernment of the times that we are at a point 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, and know how to respond properly, boldly and confidently as He more clearly reveals the bigger and more important picture.

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 pandemic in the United States and I am sure all around the world, afflicting many with deception. Untold numbers fall ill from its effects which is being packaged and marketed as 100% pure truth. Just consider the scores of people who get their information from the supermarket tabloids!

To understanding the present time requires:

    * cutting through all the clutter,
    * practicing clear-minded thinking, (we wrote about this in Monday's message)
    * having Biblically-informed discernment and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
    * speaking and acting on the truth in love and boldness

We have a model to follow in the little-known "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 tend to gloss over following the laborious genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1-9. But there are some powerful gems in this section such as a description of the 50,000 warriors 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.

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).

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 Bible 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 by asking the Lord to help us understand the present time and show us how to remain faithful and fruitful, as we prayerfully represent His kingdom here on earth.

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. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but rather the authorities from this world. Keep our souls untainted by 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.

Correction: Darlene, an attentive reader pointed out a memory error in a recent prayer we both missed. "In the prayer you had Aaron and Hur holding up Abraham's arms for Israel to get the victory. It was Moses." She went on to nicely say, "I know that you know that. Sometimes we do make mistakes. Keep up the good work."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Statement of Faith"  Video  The Booth Brothers, The Hoppers & Greater Vision

Finally today:
Yesterday we shared a photo that appeared to be from underwater with ducks swimming above. It was actually a photo I took years ago of a painting on the ceiling at the main Bass Pro Shop store in Springfield MO!

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