1 Chronicles 4:1-20 (Part 3) – Changing the Culture: We Can vs. We Can’t

Posted: December 4, 2019 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 4:1-20 (Part 3 of 5)

Other Descendants of Judah

At this time of year in the world of college football, there are firings of coaches whose teams have underperformed to expectations from alumni and fans. Some college teams that you see out there, it just seems that there are systemic problems that have to be solved. For example, the once mighty programs at Florida State and University Miami and competitive programs like University of South Carolina all seem to be in a state of disarray. There are others out there in a similar state where coaching changes have either been made or need to be made. In each of these cases, the problems run deep. In each of these cases, the culture of the program needs to changed.

For us who are fans of the Clemson University Tiger football program, we are riding high right now. The Tigers are right now in the midst of the possibility of a fifth straight ACC title and a fifth straight trip to the College Football Playoffs. The Tigers have won 6 ACC titles in the last 9 season and have played in the conference championship game 7 times in the last 11 years. We are in the midst of our 10th straight season of 10 wins or more. The Tigers have won 115 or so games this decade. Only Alabama and Ohio State can match that. These are heady times to be a Tiger fan.

But it has not always been this way. The Tigers have had eras of greatness (though not to the extent they have now) during the 1940s, again in the 50’s, and then from 1977-1992. But from 1993 until 2009, they were mired in mediocrity and expectations from those championship days of the late 70s through the early 90s gradually lowered to the point that we no longer even considered ourselves championship material. We expected and we got mediocrity in the program. We no longer saw ourselves as champions. We saw ourselves as a middle of the pack team with no hope of rising to greatness again. We sold ourselves short as a fan base and as a football program. It was not until Coach Swinney became head coach and he started talking about things we no longer talked about. He started talking about championships. He went about changing the culture of mediocrity. It was more than talk. It took several years to get the program back to prominence, but it began with his passion to change the culture of the program. You have to believe you are a winner before you can become one.

When I think about my own church that I began pastoring 6 months ago, I think about Coach Swinney and his “changing the culture” because it applies to small town Methodist church life just as much as it does to a major college football program. Here, before we can become a more impactful church for the kingdom, we first must believe that we can. So often, in churches today, we have come to expect that we can no longer grow. We have come to expect that we “can’t” because we are small. We come to expect that we can’t achieve great dreams because we simply don’t have the people and the resources. When that attitude grips a church, you begin to accept less than excellent. You begin to accept that you are a second-tier bowl team and not a New Year’s Day bowl team. You begin to accept that you cannot do whatever it is. You accept second best. You do not have the belief that the dreams that you have in your mind can become a reality. You accept that the hard work required is just too hard. You have to change the culture.

That is what I have been about these past six months and will continue to be a challenger and a cheerleader for our people. To change the idea that “we can’t” to “we can”. To change the idea of “it’s too hard” to “well, there’s a challenge for sure, but we CAN DO IT!” That’s what I think about when I think of the part of Jabez’s prayer where he asks for his territory to be expanded. With that idea of changing the culture, let’s read the passage, 1 Chronicles 4:1-20, now:

Chapter 4

1 The descendants of Judah were Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal.

2 Shobal’s son Reaiah was the father of Jahath. Jahath was the father of Ahumai and Lahad. These were the families of the Zorathites.

3 The descendants of[a] Etam were Jezreel, Ishma, Idbash, their sister Hazzelelponi, 4 Penuel (the father of[b] Gedor), and Ezer (the father of Hushah). These were the descendants of Hur (the firstborn of Ephrathah), the ancestor of Bethlehem.

5 Ashhur (the father of Tekoa) had two wives, named Helah and Naarah. 6 Naarah gave birth to Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari. 7 Helah gave birth to Zereth, Izhar,[c] Ethnan, 8 and Koz, who became the ancestor of Anub, Zobebah, and all the families of Aharhel son of Harum.

9 There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez[d] because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

11 Kelub (the brother of Shuhah) was the father of Mehir. Mehir was the father of Eshton. 12 Eshton was the father of Beth-rapha, Paseah, and Tehinnah. Tehinnah was the father of Ir-nahash. These were the descendants of Recah.

13 The sons of Kenaz were Othniel and Seraiah. Othniel’s sons were Hathath and Meonothai.[e] 14 Meonothai was the father of Ophrah. Seraiah was the father of Joab, the founder of the Valley of Craftsmen,[f] so called because they were craftsmen.

15 The sons of Caleb son of Jephunneh were Iru, Elah, and Naam. The son of Elah was Kenaz.

16 The sons of Jehallelel were Ziph, Ziphah, Tiria, and Asarel.

17 The sons of Ezrah were Jether, Mered, Epher, and Jalon. One of Mered’s wives became[g] the mother of Miriam, Shammai, and Ishbah (the father of Eshtemoa). 18 He married a woman from Judah, who became the mother of Jered (the father of Gedor), Heber (the father of Soco), and Jekuthiel (the father of Zanoah). Mered also married Bithia, a daughter of Pharaoh, and she bore him children.

19 Hodiah’s wife was the sister of Naham. One of her sons was the father of Keilah the Garmite, and another was the father of Eshtemoa the Maacathite.

20 The sons of Shimon were Amnon, Rinnah, Ben-hanan, and Tilon.

The descendants of Ishi were Zoheth and Ben-zoheth.

In this passage, you will note that Jabez asks God to expand his territory. To expand means to widen, to enlarge, to increase, to add on to that which is already existing. In the history of Israel, Jabez lived just after the dividing of the Promised Land into portions for each tribe.  As he looked over the spread his family had passed down to him, he calculated the potential and made a decision: “Everything you’ve put under my care, O Lord, take it and enlarge it.” He wanted to expand beyond what was known to the present and past generations. He wanted to expand beyond what was even known to him. Jabez, wanted to stretch out for more. Although, it is not recorded why Jabez asked for an expanded territory, nor is it recorded what prompted Jabez to ask God for more. What is recorded, is the faith of Jabez to ask God for enlarged borders. Jabez had the faith to ask beyond his current situation.

What we must have in our church and many like it today is the belief that through God we can accomplish anything. We must believe that God has not assigned us to second best. We must believe that God has great things in store for us. We must believe that God will grant us the resources, the people, and especially the passion to do great things for the kingdom. We must believe that we are capable of being a championship church. We must believe that in striving for the things that seem impossible and we don’t have anything but a belief that WE CAN is where we must have great faith that God will grant us what we need if our desires are in alignment with His designs for our church.

We have come to believe that we must accept second best. We must accept less than because we have sold our God short. God parted the waters for Moses because Moses had full faith in God to pull off a miracle. To be a championship church, we must believe we have championship potential. Back in 2009, when Clemson was 3-3 and mired in mediocrity for a quarter century, a bold brash young head coach said we can compete for national championship again. He had to change the culture of accepting mediocrity, of think “we can’t”. The first step in a journey to greatness is believing that you CAN achieve greatness. It is the same with churches. We must believe that God can still part the waters. We must believe that when we are all fully believing that God can make us an impactful, growing church, even in a small town, that God will provide the miracles. We must believe in our hearts that God can so then WE CAN. We must have championship belief in a championship God. We must not eliminate ourselves from championship contention before the season begins. We must seek and expect greatness. We must seek and expect excellence. Why? Because we have faith in a God of miracles who can expand our territory.

Amen and Amen.

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