1 Chronicles 12:32 - Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.
The Mission Field in Our Backyard
If you were called to serve as a missionary in a foreign land, you would no doubt seek to learn as much as possible about that land and its inhabitants. You would want to learn how to speak the language of the people, as well as discover their customs and beliefs, in order to get to know them and communicate effectively with them. How else would you be able to meet their eternal and temporal needs?
In our world today, what is true about ministering in a foreign land is equally as true in our own. As many missiologists and evangelists have pointed out, if we desire to effectively reach our diverse culture for Christ, we must know the language, customs, and beliefs of the people we’re around every day. Jesus reminds us that these people are our neighbors whom we’re called to love.
Yet, we know that behind people’s perceived temporal needs there lurk real and eternal needs that only the Lord Jesus Christ can meet. Irrelevance is not a mark of faithfulness or a virtue to celebrate. Seeking to understand where people are “coming from” spiritually, philosophically, psychologically, and emotionally is not necessarily accommodation and compromise. Building relationships, meeting needs, and giving answers that never include the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel is. It was the Apostle Paul who said that he had become all things to all people that he might win some to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:22). We can be certain that he was able to do so without sinning or selling out. Should we not seek to follow in his footsteps?
Called to be Like the Men of Issachar
Issachar was one of Jacob’s sons whose descendants grew to become one of Israel’s twelve tribes. By the time of King David, we are told in 1 Chronicles 12:32, that among the great fighting warriors of Israel were the men of Issachar, who were distinguished by knowing or understanding the times in which they lived and were able to advise Israel accordingly. It was the Lord Jesus who castigated the religious leaders of his day for being able to predict the weather but not being able to interpret the signs of the times (Matthew 16:1-3). God continues to call godly men to know the times in which they live in order to provide a faithful witness for Christ and his Kingdom in our own day.
Godly men should help their neighbors view the temporal world in which they live with and through the light of God’s eternal perspective. Whether the focus is theology, worldview, ethics, culture, Western civilization, peace, justice, economics, etc., godly men are called to provide those in their spheres of influence with biblically faithful, culturally aware, and practically useful wisdom and guidance. The goal should be to lovingly equip those entrusted to their care as well as to faithfully confront unrighteousness and evil with God’s truth. Such vigilant ambassadors of God’s Kingdom are called to represent the Lord Jesus Christ in their own personal mission fields to which they have been called to serve.
The King of Our Mission Field
Jesus Christ is the Lord over every mission field and we want to communicate that touchstone truth to every man, woman and child in a way that is true, significant, and attractive. We cannot save people ourselves but that doesn’t mean we should not bear witness to our Lord as lovingly, clearly, and faithfully as possible.
Like the men of Issachar, we need to know the times in which we live and effectively, humbly, and respectfully give an answer to everyone who asks us about the hope that we have in this world and the world to come.
Heavenly Father, help me to be a faithful steward and ambassador of your Word – the loving truth of the good news of Jesus Christ. As your ambassador, enable me to speak only your message to others, and not my “new and improved” version of it. As your steward, remind me that you have not only entrusted me with your truth, but you have also entrusted others to my care, that I might humbly share your truth with them. Your truth does not belong to me. It is yours and you have chosen to reveal it to the world. Therefore, help me faithfully communicate it to others in such a way that they will not only know how much you love them, but how much I love them as well. Remind me that it was the faithfulness of those who came before me that brought me this same good news. In Christ I pray. Amen.
This Week’s Prayer Guide
[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]
Petition – prayers for yourself
· Help me to mature in my faith and to increasingly please God by my thoughts, words, and deeds.
· Particular struggles in various relationships
· My activities for this day
· Other needs
Intercession – prayers for others
· My Family
· My local church
· My denomination
· Para-church ministries, particularly Christian education and discipleship
· Evangelistic ministries
· Other needs
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