BETA

Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for September, 1994

Monday, September 26, 1994

PERSONAL PEACE AND PROSPERITY

Good Morning!

 According to Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer, peace and prosperity are the two pre-eminent values of American Christians.  As believers many of us seem to believe God to be the “Omniscient Bellhop” Who roams heaven, anxiously waiting to respond to our every whim.

If you doubt your concern over personal peace and prosperity, analyze the content of your  prayers these past two weeks. What per cent of them focused on your personal well being and what per cent were spent agonizing over the winning of the lost or the maturing of the saved?

But did not Jesus promise us PEACE?  “…My peace I give to you…These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may  have peace…”  (Jn. 14:27; 16:33)

 How then do Jesus’ (and Paul’s) other statements fit in with our near obsession for personal well being:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth…but a sword.”  (Matt. 10:34)

“We are afflicted in every way…perplexed…struck down…always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus…(II Cor. 4:8-10)

 Following Jesus means entering Satan’s territory and attacking his strongholds.  And that may spell the sacrificing of our personal comfort:  Running the risk of  trauma over peace;  poverty over prosperity.

If you question this to be true:

  • Stand up for morality in your neighborhood or at the office.   Openly question the rightness of soft porn or abortion.
  • Speak out at the office for ethical business practices that if implemented, introduce the real possibility of cutting into personal and corporate profits.

Could it be that at the moment we become openly identified with Christ and His values, we will begin to understand Paul’s unsettling statement, Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will  be persecuted.”  (II Tim. 3:12).  Hardly a recipe for personal peace and prosperity!

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Monday, September 19, 1994

EVER HAVE A TOUGH TIME ACCEPTING THE GRACE OF GOD FOR YOUR LIFE?

Good Morning!

Do I have good news for you!

Consider a couple of classic failures and how God graciously dealt with them:

Abraham:

  • God tells him that his 90 year old wife is going to bear a child. (Gen. 17:16)
  •  Abraham falls on his face and laughs (literally “mocks”, “scorns”), saying, “Will Sarah…bear a child?”  (Gen. 17:17)
  •  In the following chapter God says of Abraham:  He “will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed, for I have chosen him.”  (Gen. 18:18)

THAT IS THE GRACE OF GOD!

Sarah:

  • God names Sarah “Princess”, “You (Abraham) shall call her Sarah…”(Literally, “Princess”)  (Gen. 17:15)
  • God tells Abraham that within a year Sarah will bear a son.  (Gen. 18:10)
  • Sarah, who is within earshot also laughs, “Shall I indeed bear a child when I am so old?”  (Gen. 18:12,13)

Imagine:  God names Sarah “Princess” with the full knowledge that she will soon mock His promise to give her a son.

THAT IS THE GRACE OF GOD!

It is obvious that God, in His great love and grace chooses and uses less than perfect people.  people who are in the process of becoming.

So the next time you are inclined to write yourself off as an unqualified candidate for His grace, keep in mind blundering Abraham and Sarah, and God’s grace in dealing with them.

“…Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”  (Rom. 5:20)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Monday, September 12, 1994

THE UNTRIED CHRISTIAN IDEAL

Good Morning!

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”  A. K. Chesterton

The thought that Christ wants all of me on His terms based solely on the strength of His word relegates many of us to observer status in what could have been a living drama beyond imagination.  We simply find His challenge too “difficult” and consequently “left untried.”

After all, how can Jesus  be taken seriously when He says,

  • No one of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
  • “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.”
  • “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself.”+

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred for his faith during Nazi Germany stated, “When Jesus Christ calls us, He bids us come and die.” 

 Many of us would rather live on the fringes of authentic Christianity than “die” to our stubborn will and “risk” everything through total surrender to Christ.

When Jesus challenged a mob of wannabe “disciples” with, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you…many…turned back and no longer followed Him.”  (Lk. 6:53,66 – NIV; K.J.)

 In that moment, His call to total commitment…to the “Christian ideal” wasfound difficult and left untried.”

 The question Jesus then posed to the remaining disciples echoes down through the centuries to us today, “Will you too go away?”  (Jn. 6:67)

 Only you, in the depths of your soul know the answer to that question.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Monday, September 5, 1994

“I HAVE MY RIGHTS! THEY CANT DO THAT TO ME!”

Good Morning!

Or really?  You have “rights”?

Here is how Jesus viewed “rights“: 

  • If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it.
  • “If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life.  No more tit-for-tat stuff.
  • “If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it.”  (Lk. 6:29,30; Matt. 5:40 – The Message)

Why is it we find this teaching of Christ so difficult to accept?  Let me suggest two reasons:

#1  It seems so unfair.  But where in the Bible does God guarantee us fairness — this side of eternity?  The fact is, life is unfair.  Your character development is of far greater interest to God than your  guarantee of “fairness”.

The story of the Rich man and Lazarus powerfully reminds us that it is in eternity when God will equalize the books.  (Lk. 16:19-31)

#2  We might not survive if we allow people to take advantage of us.

Where is it written that you are to survive?  Jesus submitted to evil people to the point of allowing them to murder Him.  And He calls us to exactly the same standard of surrender:

 “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps”.

  • When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return.
  • When He was abused and suffered He made no threats of vengeance.”  (I Pet. 2:21,23 – NAS; Amplified)

 QUESTION: Can we trust our Sovereign God in simply obeying His word without rationalization?  Without compromise?  And leave the outcome to Him?  Jesus did, and He calls us to the same quality of faith and obedience.

My prayer is that you are having a great week!