BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for December, 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

WEALTH WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT IT? (Part #1)

Perhaps some of us share Woody Allens confused perspective:  If only God would give me some clear sign!  Like making a deposit in my name in a Swiss bank account. 

On a more serious note, Robert J. McCraken comments, Get to know two things about a man how he earns his money and how he spends it and you have the clue to his character, for you have a searchlight that shows up the inmost recesses of his soul.  You know all you need to know about his standards, his motives, his driving desires, his real religion. 

Many believers in Christ wonder if is it OK to be wealthy.  Is it more spiritual to be relatively poor or of modest means?  How do I deal with the success when it comes my way?  Is it Gods blessing, or should I feel guilty about it?  How do I keep the balance between enjoying the material blessings and not being corrupted by greed and pride? 

The Scriptures teach,

Wealth may be the result of hard work, or the special blessing of God: Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get richThe blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it. (Prov. 10:4; 10:22).  God said to Solomon, Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for personal wealth and honor or the death of your enemies or even a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people, I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. And I will also give you riches, wealth, and honor such as no other king has ever had before you or will ever have again!"  (2 Chron. 1:11,12) (See Deut. 6:10,11; Prov. 13:4; Hos. 2:8; 1 Cor. 15:58)

Wealth can be used to enhance our relationship to God and bless others: And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saintsEach man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 8:1-4; 9:7)

Wealth carries with it the potential for certain sins such as pride (1 Tim. 6:17), oppression of the poor (Jms. 2:6), selfishness (Lk. 12 and 16), dishonesty (Lk. 19:10), conceit (Prov. 28:11), and trusting in it for security. (Prov. 18:11)

Wealth and God cannot be equally served:  "No servant 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. (Lk.16:13) (See Josh. 24:15; Rom. 6:16-22; 8:5-8; Jms. 4:4; I Jn. 2:15,16)

Wealth can be a seductive force for those ministering for God: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serveThere are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain.  (I Pet. 5:2; Tit. 1:10b,11) (See 1 Tim. 3:2,3,8)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

DIVORCE WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH?

In an age where every man [is doing] that which [is] right in his own eyes, (Judg. 21:25b) it behooves us to set the Biblical record straight on this important subject. The fact is God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16):

 #1 Jesus was against divorce. His detractors (the rabbis) tried to draw him into their controversy on the  subject. (Matt. 19:3-9; Mk. 10: 2-12). Divorce was allowed by Moses  (Deut. 24:1-4) said Jesus, not because God was for it, but rather to accommodate their hard hearts.

 #2 Gods original intent was one man with one woman for life. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created themFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.  (Gen. 1:27; 2:24)

 #3 Anyone who divorces his spouse (except for marital unfaithfulness), and marries another commits adultery. Anyone who marries the divorced spouse commits adultery.  (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mk. 10:11; Lk. 16:18) I Corinthians 6:9 informs us that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

 #4 Paul sided with Jesus in teaching that a Christian man should not divorce his wife, and the Christian woman should not separate from her husband. (I Cor. 7:10-14)

 #5 In the matter of a Christian married to a nonbeliever, Paul did not have a specific teaching from Jesus. However, under the guidance of Gods Spirit he stated that a Christian was not to take the initiative to divorce the nonbeliever. So long as the nonbeliever was willing to live in a proper marriage relationship, the Christian was to maintain that relationship. (I Cor. 10:12-14)

 #6 The Scripture does not give specific instructions as to what a divorced person should do. The nearest is Pauls advice that the woman who separates from her husband should remain single or else be reconciled with her husband.  But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.  (Cor. 7:11) This advice was given in a context where Paul urged the single state for anyone who was not married.

 #7 Jesus showed the consequences of divorce in the lives of people. If a man divorced his wife, he made her an adulteress unless the basis of the divorce was her own immorality.  (Matt. 5:31,32)1

 God grant us the courage and integrity to live by Biblical imperatives and not side with Debbie Boone, It cant be wrong when  it feels so right. God will judge us by his righteous standards, not by how good it feels.

 

1 This statement has been understood in various ways. One idea is that Jesus was giving here a justifiable ground for divorce. If the wife violated her marriage vows, the husband had the right to divorce her. However, another suggestion is that Jesus was not making a law. Instead, he was saying that the husband would make the wife become an adulteress unless she had already become one by her own action. A divorced woman in Palestine of that day had few choices. To survive she could remarry or become a prostitute. In either case she was guilty of adultery. In a few instances, the divorced wife might have been able to return to live with her parents. Whichever interpretation of Jesus statement is considered best, He indicated that Gods intention was permanent marriage. (Holeman Study Bible Dictionary)

2  Many of the key points have been derived from the Holeman Study Bible Dictionary 

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

THE RAT RACE

THE RAT RACE 

Lets admit it.  Many of us feel rushed. Disjointed.  Under constant pressure. Angry a lot of the time. We seem to have too much too do and too little time in which to do it. Worst of all, we never seem to have enough time for those who are the dearest to us, often resulting in a sense of alienation toward our spouse and children.

A friend of mine returned home on a Saturday morning from a two week business trip. His two boys who were watching T. V. didnt even look up when they heard him enter the room. When he walked into the bedroom to embrace his wife, she rushed past him to an appointment.  It was then he realize he had lost his family for his business.  Divorce soon followed.

Another friend, sitting in first class on an airplane, became engaged in conversation with the gentleman in the next seat who rambled on for fifteen minutes about his many accomplishments.  During a pause my friend asked, Can you tell me about your wife and children?  After a stunned moment of silence, the gentleman broke down and wept.  The question is, success, but at what price?

Why is it that we often feel we are chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? The harder we pursue it the further it seems to recede into the distance.  Could it be that we are chasing an illusive, and impossible dream?  The chase is called the Rat Race.  Like a rat on a treadmill, we seem to be going faster and faster to nowhere. And there appears to be no way of getting off. We find ourselves bogged down in a world of ever increasing  intensity, complexity and velocity. Seduced by our materialistic quest, we resemble industrialist J. P. Morgan of an earlier era, who when asked what it would take to satisfy him, replied, Just a little bit more. 

And the impact on us and our families?  Frustration. Anger. Fragmentation.  Alienation. Broken relationships.

Perhaps we have bought into the deception that if we can just make enough money and reach a certain status in society, and impress enough people, and wield enough powerthen we will have arrived? 

Jesus, knowing our penchant toward such a warped view of life, cautioned us, How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Matt. 16:26 NLT) 

The Master extends his gracious invitation to us, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with mewatch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matt. 11:28-30 Msg.)

QUESTION: The only force that will break our enslavement to life on the tread mill the Rat Race is to choose daily to feed on Jesus Christ through quality, unrushed time in His presence, guided by the Spirit and centered in Gods word. God will then begin the process of re-orientating us to live life as He intended it to be lived. If you are part of todays Rat Pack, are you desperate enough to begin the process of liberation? Or is more pain still in the offing for you?

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE AN IMPACT FOR CHRIST IN YOUR WORLD, CONSIDER THIS:

 Studies indicate that within two to three years after conversion, most believers loose their network of relationships with their lost friends and associates. What a tragedy!  By default, we find ourselves gravitating toward the more comfortable and safe world of believers at the expense of continued involvement with the lost. Today, it is possible through home schooling, Christian schools, church involvement, etc. to almost totally disengage from people outside the pale of Christian influence.  By default, we become part of the Christian ghetto!

 If you are looking to remedy this unfortunate situation, take out a sheet of paper and map all your relationships by name.  Categorize them on the paper as relatives, friends, and associates/acquaintances. Most will be the people where you live, work, and play.  List everyone by name. Then ask, With whom among these people is God working?  Tag them. Then make a commitment to pray daily for them. Ask God to continue to draw them to Himself.  Also ask God to give you a heart of compassion for them. Then ask the Lord if, how, and when you should become more involved in their lives to influence them spiritually.

 To significantly affect the lost among consider this:

  Intentionally become engaged in the lives of the lost. While in line at the supermarket, for example, choose to converse with the person next to you.  Get their name or card. Begin praying for them. A week or two later when you run into them again, call them by name.  In time this acquaintance could lead to coffee together, and so on.

  View evangelism (and discipleship) not as an event, but as a process.  Think of everyone you meet as living at some point on a continuum.  Our desire is to be used of God to help move them on the continuum toward +10:

 -10 —————————————————— 0 ——————————————————— +10

(No interest in Christ)  (Neutral)  (Total commitment to Christ)

  Rather than preach at the lost, allow them access to your life so they can observe the effect of the Gospel as to how you treat your spouse, handle your money, and deal with issues such as ethics, personal purity, pride, etc. In other words, live out Matthew 5:3-9 in such a manner that they can see the salt and light of your life. (Matt. 5:13,16)

   In your social relationships, generally opt for more involvement with the lost than with the saved. (See Lk. 14:12-14) Develop a mindset that allows you to move naturally among the lost.  Jesus was accused of being glutton and drunkard because of his natural engagement among the lost. (Matt. 11:19)

Later, when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riff-raff?" Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders." (Matt. 9:10-13 Msg.)

Ultimately it boils down to a question as to whom we choose to offend: God, for our failing to obey his injunction to fish for men (Matt. 4:19), or our Christian friends who may not understand our involvement among the lost. Given the choice, Ill choose to offend the latter.  How about you?