BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for May, 2001

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

HERE IS A SIMPLE BUT IN DEPTH WAY TO DO BIBLE STUDY

Good Morning!

 As we grow in Christ, it is important that we advance from man-made Bible studies to digging into the word of God out for ourselves. A common method is “inductive” Bible study.  Hebrews’ comments are salient:

“…By this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

To begin, I would suggest that you select one of Paul’s smaller books (I Thessalonians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 or 2 Timothy, etc).  Do a background study on the book: Who is the author; why was it written? Learn the historical background, dates, key players, etc. Some Bibles  (Life Application, NIV Study Bible, etc) have summaries at the beginning of each book. A Bible dictionary can also be helpful.

Than take the first chapter, and work through it verse by verse. After exhausting your analysis, consult a Bible commentary. Following is a sampling from 1 Timothy:+

Verse

Personal Paraphrase

Questions and Answers

Cross References

Insights

Personal Application

1:1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

 

Paul, one sent forth as Christ’s representative, by the commandment of God, the One who saves us, and Christ Jesus our hope,

 

  1. What does the word apostle mean?
  2. The Greek word apostolos comes from the verb apostello, “send forth.”

 

 

Apostle: 

2Cr. 1:1

 

God my Savior:

Lk. 1:47

Titus 1:3

 

Christ our hope: Col. 1:27

 

  1. The name Paul comes from the Latin name Paulus, which means “little.”
  2. The name Timothy means “he who honors God.”

 

 

I must begin to see myself in the role of Christ’s ambassador who has been authorized and sent out with a divine message.  The authority of my witness will only be as effective as my awareness of my mission.

After completing the verse-by-verse analysis of the chapter, assign it a title and a key verse(s). Write a summary paragraph as to the thesis of the chapter. Repeat the process for subsequent chapters. When the book is completed, give it a title. 

I don’t want to be unkind, but mediocrity is a hallmark of the age.  Let me challenge you to set some high goals for your personal spiritual growth.   For example you might say that within the next 10 years you will have inductively studied _____of books of the Old Testament and _____ of books of the New Testament, giving, say 3 hours a week to study  (not to be confused with or substituted for your “quiet time.”)

 Michael Jordan once said “Aim at nothing and you are sure to hit it.”  (Or was it Saddam Hussein?)

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

THE HARSH REALITY OF POVERY, JUST WHAT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY?

Good Morning!

Let’s pretend that you have decided to gear down to the level where hundreds of millions of people on this planet live. Here’s a starter kit on how to get there:+

  • First, take out the furniture: leave a few old blankets, a kitchen table, maybe a wooden chair. 

            You’ve never had a bed, remember?

  • Second, throw out your clothes.  Each person in the family may keep the oldest suit or dress, a

           shirt or blouse.  The head of the family has the only pair of shoes.

  •  Third, all kitchen appliances have vanished.  Keep a box of matches, a small bag of flour, some

            sugar and slat, a handful of onions, a dish of dried beans.  Rescue the moldy potatoes from the

            garbage can: those are tonight’s meal.

  • Fourth, dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, take out the wiring and the lights and

           everything that runs by electricity.

  • Fifth, take away the house and move the family into the toolshed.
  • Sixth, no more postman, fireman, government services.  The two-class-room school is three miles

           away, but only two of your seven children attend anyway, and they walk.

  • Seventh, throw out your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, insurance policies.  You

           now have a cash hoard of $5.

  • Eighth, get out and start cultivating your three acres.  Try hard to raise $300 in cash crops because

           your landlord wants one third and your moneylender 10 percent.

  •  Ninth, find some way for your children to bring in a little extra money so you have something to

           eat most days.  But it won’t be enough to keep bodies healthy – so lop off 25 to 30 years of life.” 

As a follower of Christ, what is my responsibility?

“If a man shuts his ear to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered…He who  gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.”  (Pro. 21:13; 28:27)

  “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (I Jn. 3:17, 18)

 PRAYER:  “Dear God, help me to see those less fortunate than myself through your eyes, and respond in a way that reflects the very heart of Jesus.  Amen.”

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

GOD’S GRACE OVERRIDES SATAN’S ACCUSATIONS

Good Morning!

Andrew, a businessman in his early 30’s, is developing a relationship with Ann that may well lead to marriage.  Both are deeply committed to Christ.  When Andrew brought Ann in for counseling, I learned that four years ago she lost her virginity when a persuasive “friend” took advantage of her. 

Since then, Satan – that great “accuser of our brothers…” – has had a field day with Ann as she has suffered from unimaginable guilt, self-recrimination, and low self-esteem, (Rev. 12:10b).  After listening to her story, I felt compelled to share the following principles and Scriptures with her:

#1  When we confess and forsake our sins, God forgives and forgets:

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper,  but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy…I, even I, am he who blots out  your transgressions, for my own sake,  and remembers your sins no more…If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,  O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Prov. 18:13; Isa.  43:25; Psa. 130:3,4)  (See I Jn. 1:9; 2:1,2)

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”  (Psa. 103:10-14)

 #2  God’s grace is not a license to continue in sin:   

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!…You… were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature…Jesus…asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’  ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’” (Rom.6:1,2a; Gal.5:13; Jn. 8:10,11)

After sharing the Scriptures, we prayed together,  claiming and appropriating His forgiveness, healing and inner peace. The next day I received a call informing me that for the first time in years, Ann was free of guilt and was filled with joy.

 QUESTION: Are you carrying around unnecessary guilt for your past sins?  If so, accept his promised forgiveness, appropriate His grace, (which has already been given you), and experience His freedom.  Today.

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, May 9, 2001

INTIMACY AND IMMEDIACY

Good Morning!

This week I spent time with a seasoned, older man who has walked with God for sixty years. Observing this war-horse of the faith, and reflecting back on others of his stripe, two traits seem to characterize their lives:

INTIMACY  (The Great Commandment – Matt. 22:37-39) – I notice that they have cultivated the practice of communion with Christ through the day.  That is, they exhibit dependency upon Jesus in the details of their lives, being highly sensitive to His prompting, and acutely aware of personal sin. Unwittingly, they project a spirit of humility and gentleness — perhaps even brokenness.  Absent is any air of superiority or self-promotion.

“…We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ…It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful…Clothe yourselves with…humility, gentleness and patience…”  (2 Cor. 10:5b – NIV; Jn.15:5a – Phillips; Col. 3:12b – NIV)

IMMEDIACY (The Great Commission – Mt 28:18-20) – It seems that they are forever, and everlastingly “at it.”  That is, their antennas are up, utilizing every opportunity to lovingly and graciously share the love of Christ with those who enter their orbit.  Theirs is a mind-set reflective of Paul’s:

“…Naturally, we proclaim Christ!  We warn everyone we meet,  (evangelism) and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him, (discipleship) so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ Jesus.  This is what I am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me.”  (Col.1:28,29 -Phillips)

 Their sense of immediacy is mirrored in the saying,  “if not you –  who?  If not now – When?”  Yet, with this sense of immediacy, there is not the slightest hint of pushiness.  Again, reflective of Paul’s approach:

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone…And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…” (Col. 4:5,6; 2 Tim 2:25-26a)

In summary, the above passages instruct us on how to relate to our lost friends and associates:

  • Be wise: Clever and skilled
  • Utilize every opportunity: Immediacy.
  • Be gracious: Gentle, meek, humble, mild, patiently enduring evil or ill will.
  • Be salty: Pointed; not insipid; “an edge of liveliness”  (Knox Translation)
  • Be willing to correct error or false teaching: Chasten, educate, teach and train.
  • Not be quarrelsome: Don’t dispute or strive. Rather, be kind. 

 SUGGESTION: Would you take a moment now and pray, “Lord, if my walk with you is not characterized by a spirit of intimacy and immediacy, why?  What needs to change?”

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, May 2, 2001

OBEYING GOD MAY SEEM ILLOGICAL AND PROVE TO BE COSTLY

Good Morning!

I’m going to sue that  #@*&+|$^ company into the 4th Century!  I’m taking them to court for giving me one month’ s severance instead of the six we agreed upon in the contract!”

So said Sam in his fiery reaction to the mind games his boss had been imposing on him in order to force his resignation. As I listened, I could feel the hair rising on the back of my neck.  Managing to keep my composure, I suggested we look at a few passages of Scripture:

“…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that….But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”  (Lk. 6:27b-33,35)  (See Rom. 12:18-21)

“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh… Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (I Pet. 2:18, 21b – 23)

Later, after Sam and his wife had carefully analyzed the above passages, they decided to leave the company graciously, and accept whatever compensation package the management decided upon. What surprised them was the strong opposition they received from “Christian” relatives who insisted they go to court and demand their “rights”. 

Could the key to how we respond to injustices be determined by our understanding of that little phrase, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly”?  Isn’t it only as we see God as the One with the final word that we are able to obey Biblical imperatives that may seem to defy human logic?  

It is important for us to understand that at some point God will equalize the books for the injustices visited upon us, and that He will reward us for our uncompromising obedience to His word, difficult as that obedience may appear at the time. (2Thes.1:6; Acts 17:31;Rev.16:5,6; Matt.25:34;1Pet. 1:4)

QUESTIONS: Have you settled it in your heart that you will obey Christ and His teachings, whether they “makes sense” or not? Are you willing to pay the price of that obedience, whatever the cost?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!