BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for March, 1999

Wednesday, March 31, 1999

SIDE-STEPPING THE SEDUCER

Good Morning!

A few days ago I met with a married man who has become ensnared in an adulterous affair. During my morning reading, and with his situation in mind, I came across Joseph’s encounter with a married woman. The story in brief:  Joseph’s ten jealous brothers sell him into slavery in Egypt where he ends up as the household manager of a military officer named Potiphar:  Following are observations from Genesis 39:

#1  Temptation may come amidst God’s blessing:

The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered… When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant…”    (verses 2 – 4a)

#2  We  may be exposed to  sensual people who will seek to seduce us:

“Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me.’”  (verses 6b-7)

#3  When the pressure is on, it will be our intense desire not to sin against God that will keep us pure:

“…How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”  (verse 9b)

#4  Radical steps may be necessary to extricate ourselves from compromising situations:

And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’  But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.”  (verses 10-12)

#5  An innocent mistake may prove costly when a scorned person turns vindictive:

“She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: ‘That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house…Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison…”  (verses 16-18, 20a)

QUESTION: Have you pre-determined what you will do the day you are presented with a similar situation?

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them…do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths…Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” (Prov. 1:10,15b;2:11)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 24, 1999

THE KINGDOM OF SELF

Good Morning!

When a child enters the world from the warm and secure environment of the womb he announces,  “I have arrived, and I expect you – all of you to respond at once  to my every need, whim and desire!” And we, the enthralled parents of this little bundle of cuddly “Goo-goo-ga-ga” joyfully comply. Immediately.

And thus the “kingdom of self” is established as “Goo-goo-ga-ga” develops into a paragon of self-centered indulgence in a society where personal “rights” have been elevated to near deity status.  And just how does the adult version of  “Goo-goo-ga-ga” manifest himself?  In at least three ways:

Self-indulgence

The insatiable quest for self-gratification focuses on the greedy longings of the mind (uncontrolled imagination, greed, etc), the physical cravings of the body (uncontrolled indulgence in sex, food, sleep, indolence, etc), and in the unquenchable quest for recognition.  (I Jn. 2:15,16)

Self-protection

The former CEO of a company that went belly up told me how he was hauled into court and quarried by the judge as to why the corporation had failed. “It was my fault. I failed in running the company.  I am responsible”, said he.  Stunned, the judge sat in muted silence.  Finally, after gaining his composure he uttered, “In my 20 years on the bench, you are the first person to voluntarily admit they were to blame.” 

Self-protection says, “It’s not my fault.”  “I couldn’t help it.” “You don’t understand my background”  (Thank you Freud!) “The devil made me do it.”  (Remember Flip Wilson?).

 Self-pity

Self-pity declares, “No one appreciates me.”  “I got the shaft.”  “Why does it always happen to me?”

So what is the solution to relinquishing the enslaving “kingdom of self”?

How about a daily funeral for “self.”  Better yet, how about a moment-by-moment funeral?  I am crucified with Christ…”  (Gal. 2:20). In order to die to self we need to win the battle on at least two fronts:

(1)  Regular quality time alone with God in meditation on His word, worship and prayer.

(2)  Cultivating the art of living moment-by-moment in His presence.

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 17, 1999

IN HIS HUNGER TO KNOW GOD, MOSES MADE THREE REQUESTS OF THE HOLY ONE:+

Good Morning!

Teach me Your ways

Unlike Moses, who longed to comprehend the ways of God, our focus is often centered on self promotion, self-pity, and self-preservation. 

God reminds us of the gap between His magnificent attributes and our limited understanding,

 “…My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isa. 55:8a,9)

So if we are to know God and His ways, we must first begin to grasp the bankruptcy and futility of our practices. It is only then that we are positioned spiritually, like Moses, to cry out to learn the ways of God.

Grant me Your Presence

During the desert journey, Moses realized that to continue he must experience the accompanying Presence of God. In response to his intense request God reassured him, “…My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  (Ex. 33:14)

So today, if you are lacking an inner sense of rest, perhaps you need to entreat His Presence to lead you through your endeavors.

Show me Your glory

Paul, who understood his own inclination toward self-glorification, wrote:

“…God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  (Gal. 6:14 – KJV)) 

QUESTIONIn exactly what are you glorying? In the cross of Christ, or in your bank account? 

In the cross of Christ, or in the power you wield over others?  In the cross of Christ, or in the recognition you receive from your colleagues?

It is only when we transfer our focus from self-glorification to a passion for His glory that we can begin to experience and comprehend intimacy with Him.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 10, 1999

RESTING IN THE LORD

Good Morning!

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him,” the Scriptures tell us

It sounds good in theory, but I have deadlines to meet! And work stacked up at the office!  And interminable family and financial pressures!  And an unpredictable business climate that could turn sour without warning! And daily association with unprincipled people who are ready to scalp me if I stumble or miss a cue!

So, how do I “rest in the Lord ?  

Perhaps this story will prove helpful: Herod, that egomaniacal Roman political puppet who oversaw Israel, executes James, the brother of John.  (Mk.6:16-29)

Learning that his murderous act gained the approval of Jewish leaders, he throws Peter into jail, for “trial”  — and certain execution. The night before his trial, we find Peter chained between two guards, asleep. Asleep!  Or perhaps more descriptively, “Resting  in the Lord.” (Act. 12:1-11)

Now personally, if it were me, I would be lying awake pondering some fairly weighty questions:

Has the executioner had previous experience at his job, or am I his first try at it?

How is his eye-hand coordination?

What is going to happen to my family?

But not Peter! He’s asleep! “Resting in the Lord”!

My guess is that Peter, after innumerable false starts and failures, had learned a few lessons along the way about entrusting his life into the hands of his Sovereign God.

QUESTIONS: What circumstances are you facing today that call upon you to “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him”? (Psa. 37:7)  Could they be any more extreme than Peter’s?

And when you get right down to it, isn’t “resting in the Lord” fundamentally a decision of the will to trust Him with our circumstances?…With our life? And isn’t our refusal to “rest in the Lord an indication of our stubborn determination not to acknowledge Him as the Sovereign King of kings and the Lord of lords? (Rev.19:16)

Are you, in your heart of hearts electing to believe God sovereignly has your situation well in hand?  If so, then you, like Peter are experiencing evidence of that rest by an inner peace, the absence of anxiety, and a certain calm anticipation of the future.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 3, 1999

IT IS WISE TO PLAY DEFENSIVELY. HERE IS BILLY GRAHAM’S PRAYER LIST:

Good Morning!

  1. Prayer against wrong involvement with women

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;  that  each of  you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable…For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”  (I Thess. 4:3,4,7)

  1. Prayer against love of money

“…Godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment…But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.” (I Tim. 6:6,9,10)

  1. Prayer against pride

“…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’…For this is what the high and lofty One says…‘I live…with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” (I Pet. 5:5b, Isa. 57:17)

  1. Prayer against a critical spirit and tongue

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Eph.  4:29,31)

  1. Prayer against possession centeredness

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income…” (Ecc. 5:10a)

  1. Prayer against wrong doctrine

“…We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” (Eph. 4:14b)

  1. Prayer against spiritual coldness

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Heb. 3:13) 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!