BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for December, 2001

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

EVER WONDER IF THE “ENEMY” IS GETTING THE BEST OF US?

Good Morning!

Chaos and societal disintegration seem to reign.

Good people are squashed as scoundrels cruise past us unscathed.

 Natural disasters and wars crush innumerable innocents, while the exploitative, wily, and manipulative rule, imbibing on life’s delectibles.

 A rational observer would conclude that the forces of  Light are loosing to the forces of the Darkness.

 Prior to the cross, Jesus willingly surrendered to a lynch mob, to be strung Him up, mocked and murdered.  As the inquisition began, He commented,  This is your hour when darkness reigns.”  (Lk. 22:53)

How often have you personally felt that this was your hour when darkness reigns, as you struggled with,

  • Strained or broken relationships
  • Frustration over insoluble issues at home or the office
  • Temptation and sin

If we are to win in our epic battle between good and evil, we need to view it through Jesus’ eyes, because He is the One who understands that the Enemy has already been defeated and the victory has been secured.  As the preacher said, “Today is Friday,  (crucifixion day) but Sunday is coming!” (Resurrection Day).

The truth is that Sunday has already come and the victory has already been secured:

Paul was sent to the lost “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”  (Act. 26:18) (See Lk. 4:18; 2 Cor. 4:4,6; Eph. 1:18; 5:8; I Thes. 5:4-8)

 “…[Christ] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”  (Col. 1:13)  (See Jn. 8:31,32; Rom. 6:17-22; Heb. 2:14; I Pet. 2:9; 1 Jn. 2:8)

“…Satan, who leads the whole world astray…was hurled to the earth…” (Rev. 12:9b) (See Isa. 14:12)

 Be reassured by Christ’s encouragement that “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world…because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (Jn. 16:33b; I Jn. 4:4b)  (See Rom. 8:35-37; Gal. 1:4; I Jn. 5:4; Rev.2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,22; 12:11)

So today, will you choose to rest in the fact that because Sunday has already come, the victory has  been won for you?  Will you this very moment  choose to appropriate and enjoy His triumph?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

CAN WE REALLY HAVE IT BOTH WAYS?

Good Morning!

So, this middle aged man comes to Christ. By this time in his life, he has obtained the perks and privileges of wealth and success which have become the very source of his security, ease, and status,

 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall…They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace…always carefree, they increase in wealth.”  (Prov. 18:11; Psa. 73:3b-6,12b)  (See Prov. 10:15; Job 31:24,25; Psa. 49:6-9; 62:10 ; Ecc. 7:12)

 From time to time he has had to compromise his integrity to get where he is. Discretely, of course. That is, he’s “played the game.”  Now and then he may have actually taken advantage of a few folks. As James puts it,

 “…Listen, you rich people…Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded…You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you…You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence…”  (Jms. 5:1-5 – selected )  (See Deut. 32:15; Neh. 9:25, 26; Job 20:15-29; Psa. 49:6-20)

And now, he has decided to follow Christ.  But he faces a dilemma:  “Can he truly follow Jesus and sustain his current lifestyle without continuing the very compromises it took to obtain the wealth and status in the first place?”  Perhaps that is why Jesus made this comment after the rich young man walked out on Him,

“…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 19:24b)  (See Jn. 5:44)

You see, our middle age friend wants both the benefits of salvation and the privileges of wealth. In other words, he desires the best of both worlds.   But can he in fact have it both ways?

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt. 6:24)  (See Josh. 24:15)

 In many parts of the world, obtaining and sustaining wealth is close to unattainable without compromising one’s integrity. The jarring fact is that liars, the greedy, and swindlers will not enter heaven,

 “…Do not be deceived: Neither… thieves nor the greedy…nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God…All liars…will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”  (1 Cor. 6:9,10 selected; Rev. 21:8b)

 So tell me, are you radically committed to uncompromising integrity in conducting your business affairs? If you find that juggling a gold plated life style runs counter to living a life of purity and holiness, are you prepared to walk away from the former in order to sustain the latter?  You and I may want to consider,

Without holiness no one will see the Lord…What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Heb.12:14b; Matt.16:26)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

HOW TO LEAD A BIBLE STUDY

Good Morning!

Here is how you could divide a two hour session:

15 minutes:  Social/casual

15 minutes:  Worship and praise

15 minutes:  Sharing

15 minutes:  Prayer

60 minutes:  Bible study

Ten basic principles:

  1. Bath your preparation with diligent prayer and study.
  2. As you prepare,  have a specific goal in mind as to what you want imparted.  Frame questions that began with “who, what, when, where, why” or “how,” so that answers cannot be returned with a “yes” or “no.”
  3. Start and end on time.
  4. If there are people attending who are not “believers”, avoid creating a “churchy” Avoid religious terms that only Christians understand.   Try to view the proceedings through the eyes of those outside Christ.
  5. Don’t be afraid of silences. When you ask a question, relax, and give people time to process the query.  Silence can and will work in your favor.  Then, if no one comes forward with an answer, you may want to call on someone.  And then another, etc.
  6. Allow for as much discussion as possible. Teach as little as possible, majoring on getting them to discuss the material and discover the truth.
  7. Draw out the shy ones and discourage anyone from dominating the study.
  8. Remember: the application is the most important aspect of the study.  Therefore, work at getting everyone to make a specific  Perhaps ask several to share their applications.
  9. Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers to their questions. Just say, “I don’t know”.   Then either you or someone in the group can find the answer(s) for the next study.
  10. As you conclude the study, summarize the main points that were covered. Perhaps close in prayer.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 5, 2001

FOUR REASONS WHY WE MAY BE UNAVAILABLE TO GOD:

Good Morning!

(1) An unwillingness to give up security or comfort to follow Christ:

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ (Lk. 9:57,58)

 Years ago, in spreading the Gospel, I took strong, red-blooded businessmen with me to the back alley’s of one of the world’s most abysmal locales.  But after a couple of hours of inhaling the ubiquitous aroma of burning tires and human waste, while being jostled on rutty roads in tropical heat, one of the men groaned, “Man…I can’t take this.”  Today he luxuriates in California’s finest environs.

 (2)  An unwillingness to allow Christ, rather than man determine your  responsibilities in life:

 “He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’” (Lk. 9:59,60)

 Family expectations dictated that this fellow stick around home until his father died. Christ however, did not allow him that option, by saying in effect, “Let your spiritually dead relatives and friends bury your father when he succumbs. Put my mission before family demands. Now.”

 I wonder how many of us are in bondage to family expectations at the expense of Christ’s call upon our lives?

(3  An unwillingness to sacrifice  relationships closest to you to follow Christ:

Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’”  (Lk. 9:61,62)

I suspect Christ knew that if this man went home, He would never again return. As a young man struggling to follow Christ, I knew I had to physically leave the city of my family. The pull and expectations of the clan upon my life was simply too much to resist. So I left – at the cost of family favor.

(4) An willingness to live by a single, God-given focus:

 Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” (Lk. 9:62)

 The simple fact is, “The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations…cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at ever turn.”  (Jms. 1:6-8 Phillips Translation)

QUESTIONFrom God’s perspective, are you truly available to Him?  If not, what would it take to set you free?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!