BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for July, 1996

Wednesday, July 31, 1996

ARE YOU UNDER A CLOUD OR FOLLOWING THE CLOUD?

Good Morning!

You may recall that during the Jews’ migration across the desert God guided them with a cloud by day and a pillar by night. The cloud was the visible symbol of God’s presence.

When the cloud moved, it was the Jews’ responsibility to observe the movement and to respond accordingly. When the cloud settled down over the Tent, they also were to settle down. If however, they were inattentive, pre-occupied or indifferent to the cloud’s movement, they could easily miss God’s direction and protection.

“At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out.”  (Numb. 9:23)

Responding to the movement of the cloud is a beautiful illustration of our being prompted and led by the Holy Spirit. 

Today, the Holy Spirit, like the cloud that guided the Jews, quietly, gently, and unpretentiously guides us…if we are spiritually attuned to His urging.

Depending upon our spiritual sensitivity, we can either be guided by the Spirit or we can grieve the Spirit:

  • All who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Rom. 8:14)
  • “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  (Eph. 4:30)

How easy it is for us to be under a cloud, so to speak…fogged in by spiritual dullness and insensitivity to the things of God, thereby missing His leading, convicting, and sustaining force.

So today, are you under a cloud of spiritual mediocrity, or are you following the cloud in response to God’s direction and purpose for your life? 

 

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 24, 1996

GOUGING OUT YOUR EYE AND CUTTING OFF YOUR HAND

Good Morning!

What price are you willing to pay and to what lengths are you willing to go in order to remain pure during your pilgrimage between here and eternity?

Consider the alarming teaching of Paul in I Corinthians 6:9b, 10,

“…Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus, in recognizing our proclivity toward lust and theft, said in effect that we should take whatever measures necessary to resolve these problems.

Even to the point of gouging out our eye or cutting off our hand:

“And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.”  (Matt. 5:29-30)

Now I doubt that anyone reading this communiqué is blatantly stealing from their friends or even from their adversaries. But is it possible that in our business dealings we steal from them through such tactics as,

Exaggerating what we can deliver — Omitting to tell what we cannot deliver —  Delaying services, payment and compensation — Bending the laws to ease procuring, accounting, manufacturing and marketing?

Recently, in reflecting on this tough issue of ethics in business, I came to the personal decision that I would rather clean toilets for a living in the most backwater area of the world and maintain my integrity than compromise my virtue and risk heaven.

Gouge out your eyes and cut off your hand? Yes! If that is what it takes to live a life that is reflective of Christ’s character.  

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 17, 1996

“CHERRY PICKING” THE SCRIPTURES

Good Morning!

Have you ever picked cherries? The idea is choose the ripe ones while ignoring the rest.

Some of us “cherry pick” the Scriptures by selecting the truths we like while disregarding the others.

And what we like to pick from the Scriptures  are the truths that insure God’s promises of material blessings, healing, and general well-being.

– While ignoring His demands for separation from sin; living a life of integrity, purity, and servanthood.

If we are “cherry picking” the Scriptures, we are guilty of reducing the Word of God and Jesus Christ to a servile role that caters to our insatiable self-love.

Conversely, Paul, in preaching God’s word resisted the temptation of “cherry picking” the Scriptures: “I have not hesitated to proclaim the whole will of God.”   (Act. 20:27)

Some time ago I counseled a businessman who, along with his partners were knowingly marketing a product that was defrauding their customers.

Imagine it!  These men who supposedly had been touched by the love of Christ were using their position as leaders in the Christian community to exploit others! Apparently Scriptural “cherry picking” had dulled their conscience to make such behavior palatable.

Paul cautioned us“Live as free men,

But do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil…to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”  (I Pet. 2:16; Gal. 5:13)

QUESTION:  Are you ruthlessly applying all the Scriptures to your life, or are you selectively “cherry picking” the ones that pander your narcissistic tendencies?

The next time you are tempted to soften your stance on integrity by “cherry-picking” the Scriptures you choose to apply, keep in mind Jesus’ warning,

“…If anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life, and in the holy city…”  (Rev. 22:19a)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 10, 1996

MUSHROOMS OR REDWOOD TREES?

Good Morning!

Mushrooms sprout overnight.

Redwood trees take over a century.

When it comes to growing into spiritually mature men and women we often have the illusion that it can be done overnight; that somehow through certain spiritual experiences or the expression of the gifts, the process of spiritual growth can be hurried up or short-circuited. When we go this route, we end up with squishy, weak, spiritual mushrooms: People who are here today and gone tomorrow.

If, on the other hand we understand that the process of spiritual maturity takes a great deal of time, energy, nourishing, and just plain living through the storms of life, we may actually end up with spiritual Redwoods: Tall, stately paragons of strength and beauty that give nourishment and  shelter to others amidst the harshness of life.

Because obedience to God’s word is generic to this maturing process, let me put forth four suggestions on how to build the word of God into your life:

#1  STUDY IT THROUGH+ –  Choose a verse or passage. Discipline your mind to carefully analyze it, asking the question,“What exactly is the meaning here?”  Come at it as an academician.    

“…Correctly analyzing and accurately dividing the Word of Truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15b – Amplified)

#2  PRAY IT IN – Once you understand the Biblical  truth, surrender your will to it. Search your soul over it. Absorb it into your bloodstream. Prayerfully  ask God to build it into your life. 

#3  WORK IT OUT – Ask the  question, “What  can I do in  a practical way  to apply this  truth to my life…to m  situation?”  For example, you might write an application as  follows: “Starting today, we  in our  company  will  no longer exaggerate what our product can deliver to the public. Along with its strengths, we will explain its limitations.”

#4  PASS IT ON – Once the truth of the Scriptures have become an integral part of your life, it is only natural that you bear fruit by passing it on to others. Spiritual multiplication:

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”  (Lk. 8:15)

QUESTION: Judging from your present relationship with the Word of God, are you in the process of  becoming a spiritual redwood tree, or simply  settling in as a mushroom

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 3, 1996

BITTERNESS AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

Good Morning!

Isn’t it true that you and I have every reason to be bitter? Are there any among us who have not been exploited, abused, cheated or ignored?  

So how do we deal with our bitterness?

Joseph in the Old Testament serves as an example of someone who had just cause for bitterness and yet was able to draw on God’s grace to surmount it:

  • As a lad, God gave him a dream that his brothers would serve him. In jealous retaliation, they sold him to a caravan headed for Egypt.
  • Ending up as a slave in the house of a military leader, he was falsely accused of rape and imprisoned for an interminable period of time.
  • Through a remarkable series of “circumstances” he became the prime minister of Egypt. Years later, his devious brothers find themselves in his presence. With every reason to visit revenge upon them, Joseph forgave them and acknowledged God’s sovereign plan in spite of their  cruel treatment:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  (Gen. 50:20)

And so it is to be with us. We must grasp the fact that it is God’s sovereign intention to use the uneven circumstances of life to conform us into His image:   

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. (Rom. 8:28, 29a)

If you are struggling with bitterness, let me make a couple of suggestions: Make a list of their causes. Then go down the list item by item asking God to use each of these painful experiences to make you more Christlike. Then ask Him to help you forgive the persons who were responsible. Often, sharing your struggle with another helps in the healing process.

Understand that it is only as we draw upon God’s grace that we can turn our bitterness into praise. The alternative is bondage to a morose, angry and self-centered life that only serves to poison everyone around us and thwart our ability to influence others for Christ:

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  (Heb. 12:15)

 

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!