1, During the “shelter in place” quarantine, in what ways have you become more resourceful, creative, or even innovative?

2, Read 1 Chronicles 12:32. (see commentary in the “sermon manuscript” below). In what ways do you think God is using the pandemic to advance His redemptive mission?

3. In the analogy of the chess game with the powerful Queen being removed in order for the weaker pieces to be used more effectively (see “sermon manuscript” below), how has the lack of corporate worship enhanced your personal walk with God and the ministry of Trace Ridge? Have you become more resourceful, creative, or even innovative in your walk with God or ministry through Trace Ridge?

4. We need wisdom for this “time between the times.”
In what ways has an “elder” in your life given you wisdom for this season?
In what ways has a “youth” in your life given you wisdom for this season?

Sermon Manuscript

Time Between the Times 1 Chronicles 12:32 Sunday, May 3, 2020 Trace Ridge Baptist Church Pastor Steve Street

The Old Testament books of 1 and 2 Chronicles are a history of the nation of Israel. In 1 Chronicles 12:32 there is a passing remark about the tribe of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” We know very little about this tribe or the chiefs who led the people. However we do know that they understood the circumstances they were living in as opportunities to serve God. The tribal leaders of Issachar had sided against King Saul in favor of the future king, David. They were living in times between the times. When we are still trying to figure out what is happening around us, it is productive to see our “time between the times” as opportunities for God to work among us.

The COVID19 virus has certainly left us in a time between the times.

We interrupted a growing economy with a near shut down of the economy. Realities we had learned to live with have suddenly been put on hold; we don’t know what post-COVID19 life will look like. We are in the “time between the times.” Leaders to whom we have turned are trying to figure things out: politicians, doctors, economist, educators, farmers, manufacturers are all trying the figure out the times we are living in.

Alan Hirsch has been a church consultant for many years. Hirsch used the analogy of a chess game to help us see our mysterious transitions as opportunities for God to work among us. If you want to learn how to play chess well, you should start by removing your own queen. The queen is the most powerful piece. Once you have mastered the game without the most powerful piece, then put the queen back on the board and see how much you have improved. For the church, the Sunday worship service is our queen—our most powerful ministry function. We have been relying on it too much. Now the queen has been taken off the board and it’s time to rediscover what all the other pieces can do.

Now that we can’t have our corporate worship services, we are strengthening pieces of the ministry that we had neglected: strong home growth groups, engaging internet presence, feeding ourselves through daily Bible reading, spending more energy on our own family, increasing our care for one another. God is using the COVID19 virus as a “time between the times” to strengthen His people—the church!

Luke 2:52

There is a “time between the times” in the life of Jesus where we know very little about Him. We have the birth narratives that carry us to age 2 or 3 and then we have His adult ministry and redemptive work. We know very little about His life as a child or early teen. Luke 2:52 does share with us one important nugget about how Jesus thrived during the “time between the times.”

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.”

  • Stature: We would expect the boy to grow in stature; kids are

    constantly growing. You may not notice it as much when you are with them everyday, but when you pull out their Fall clothes from last year for school this year, you realize how much they have grown.

  • Favor with God and People reflects His social and relational skills. He was securely attached at home and engaged with people in His community. His relationship with God was close and vibrant.
  • Increased in Wisdom: Jesus is God yet He also grew in His wisdom— His understanding of the times in which He lived.

    We also need to grow in wisdom. No one has ever led during such a crisis in our world. We are all learning as we go. This is a new disease upsetting the world order.

    We need wisdom from our elders. If you are maturing well, the older

    you get the less tightly you cling to the things of this world. You value relationships and imagine a life with God in a restored Garden of Eden. Our elders have the wisdom of experience to remind us that this too shall pass and that the things of this world are passing away.

    About 6 months after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, the 87 year old evangelist Billy Graham was touring the devastation in New Orleans. A media representative asked, “Mr. Graham, what can we learn from Katrina?” The elder evangelist replied, “That there’s much more to life than material things.”

We need the wisdom of our elders.

We also need the wisdom of our youth. Every day that we live, we become less flexible. As an adult you can be grunting as you bend down to pick up your shoes, while a four year old can get on the floor, wrap their legs over their heads like a pretzel, then hop us and go running off. Every day that we live, we become less flexible. When times are changing, we need the wisdom of our youth. Children have imaginations that continue to operate even during a world-wide pandemic.
Two little boys live next door to us and they have been playing outside. I love overhearing their imaginations. “You want to play Sheriff. Yes. I’ll be the Deputy.” A few minutes later a black cat runs out in front of their bicycles and suddenly the Sheriff and the Deputy become Batman and Robin chasing the evil black cat.
Our Growth Group has been meeting via Zoom. As our facilitator is leading the meeting from his camera, occasionally we see “super heroes” daring back and forth as his preschool sons adjust to the time between the times.
Our youth are more flexible than our elders. We need the wisdom of our youth to spur our imaginations of a church that is more effective in kingdom work because we stretched ourselves by using pieces of the ministry board game that we had left idle.

The tribe of Issachar “understood the times” as opportunities for the people of God.

“Heavenly Father, grant us wisdom to see the times we are living in as opportunities for You to advance Your redemptive work through Jesus among us. Amen.”