BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for September, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TAKING A SPIRITUAL INVENTORY FROM JOHN 15:

Chapters 13-16 of Johns Gospel take place between Christ and the Twelve Disciples the night before the cross. In this portion of Scripture the Master is preparing them – and us – to assume the responsibility of carrying on the ministry of the Gospel to the nations. It is important to understand the passage from this perspective.

CleansingYou are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (vs. 3) Question: Am I exposing myself to the word of God in such a manner that it is instructing, convicting and cleansing me from the inside out?  (See Jn. 17:17; Eph. 5:25 27; I Pet. 1:22)

Obeying:  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his loveYou are my friends if you do what I command.  (vss.10, 14) Question:  Am I truly experiencing the love of Christ as a result of uncompromising, and immediate obedience to the word of God in every area of my life? (See John 14:15, 21; I Jn. 2:6; 3:24; 5:3)

Pruning[God, the gardener] cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitfulIf anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  (vss.2, 6) Question: Am I submitting to Gods discipline in allowing him to cut away the unhealthy and unnecessary growth in my life so that I am becoming increasingly fruitful?  (See Matt. 3:10; 15:13; Lk. 8:13; 13:6-9; Heb. 12:1)

Abiding:  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for youIf you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (vss.7, 10,11 – NKJ) Question:  Am I enjoying sweet communion with Christ as I walk through my day?  Am I learning to allow the Holy Spirit to control my every thought and action? (See Jn. 14:21, 23; Col. 3:16; 1 Jn. 2:5; 3:24; 5:3)

Rejoicing:  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his loveI have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  (vss.10, 11) Question:  Do I have the joy of Christ settled deep within my heart?  (See Lk. 15:5, 9, 23, 32; Jn. 16:24; 17:13; Rom. 15:13; 2 Cor. 1:24; Phil. 1:25; 1 Thes. 5:16; 1 Pet. 1:8; 1 Jn. 1:4)

Loving:  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friendsThis is my command: Love each other.  (vss.12, 13, 17) Question: Is the love of Christ flowing out of me to others?  Am I selflessly serving others in the Name of Christ?  (See Jn. 13:34, 35; Rom. 12:10; Eph. 5:2; 1 Thes. 3:12; 4:9; 1 Jn. 2:9, 10)

AskingIf you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given youYou did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  (vss.7, 16) Question:  Am I petitioning God for answers to prayer that focus on his glory?  That result in fruitful ministry? (See Psa. 37:4; Prov. 10:24; Jn. 14:13; 1 Jn. 3:21, 22)

Fruit bearing: Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothingThis is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciplesYou did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. (vss.4, 5, 8, 16a) Question: Does my life manifest the fruit of the Spirit?  (Gal. 5:22, 23) Are peoples lives influenced toward Christlikeness because of me? (See Prov. 11:30; Jn. 12:24; Phil. 1:11; Col. 1:10)

Glorifying: This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  (vs.8)  Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in my life in a manner that is drawing people to Christ? (See Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 10:31; I Pet. 2:12)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

HOW TO MOVE FROM SHALLOW DEFEAT TO INNER REST AND VICTORY

Tell me, where are you looking for fulfillment? For meaning in life?  For security?  For approval? For peace?  Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (Jn. 6:35)  Unless and until we grasp this truth that Jesus is the only source that can quench the deepest longings of the heart, we will squander our lives in a futile and idolatrous pursuit of the unattainable. For he himself is our peace (Eph. 2:14) There is no other place to find it.

Most of us dont really believe that. Just look at how we live. We give Christ the crumbs in terms of time alone with him.  For most of us, the pursuit of knowing him is done on the run;  on the back burner; a side bar to a life filled with racing from one titillation or distraction to the next: Over commitments; the frantic pursuit of money to sustain what is often an unrealistic standard of living, overload on activities, Christian service and otherwise. We rarely stop to be still; to listen for the voice of God or the prompting of the Spirit. Lets admit that were addicted to the pounding noise and cranked up pace of modern life; the barrage of the media, electronic gadgets, the applause of men, sports mania, climbing the ladder to success; etc., etc. Most of us find it difficult if not impossible to sit down to concentrate on reading thoughtful, high grade literature that expands our mind, challenges our heart, and enlarges our soul.

Jesus:  "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (Jn. 6:53) Are you really feeding on Jesus the living Bread? Yes, eating his flesh and drinking his blood? What exactly that means remains a mystery, but it has something to do with intense, intimate identification and involvement with Christ at the deepest level imaginable. It has to do with being consumed with Christ! (Col. 3:4; Phil. 1:21; 3:7-14)

The only way I know how to even begin to approach this kind of involvement with Christ is to ruthlessly block off a section of each day as though my very existence depended on it. In that unrushed quiet time alone with him and His word, the Scriptures come alive.  The Spirit penetrates to my core, convicting me of sin, opening up the word of God, and revealing the very secrets of the heart of God.  Life transformation occurs. The living Bread feeds my hunger and thirst to the point that nothing else in this world matters, by comparison.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give accountThe Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (Heb. 4:12,13; I Cor. 2:10b-12) (See Psa. 92:5,6; Dan. 2:21,22; Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 2:7-15; Eph. 4:22-4)

If we choose to truly feed on the living Bread of Life, as a way of life, we will develop a quiet center.  A rest, that almost seems outdated or quaint in our boisterous world.  God will grant us increasing spiritual authority.  The incessant wrestling with lust, anger, fear, greed, pride, etc. will wane. Life will take on a measured, sane pace. We will fuse with Him in a way that our inner core will mirror his beauty.  Surprisingly, the necessary responsibilities of life will get done without the fevered rush and grind which we have come to accept as normal and unavoidable. And, fruit will happen all over the place.

Take a moment and visualize encountering the risen Christ of Revelation 1:12-18: I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw [the Son of Man] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever (Rev. 1:12-18 selected)

QUESTION:  Given the condition of your secret inner core that no one knows about but you, how will you respond in that Day in eternity to his penetrating look into your soul?  With fear? With embarrassment? Or with welcoming arms? How you are feeding on him, the Bread of Life today, will determine the answer to that question.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

12 September, 2007

SIX BASIC BUSINESS MIMIMUMS+

  1. Reflect Christ in your business practices.  What is the culture in your office environment?  When the pressure is on, how do the non-Christian employees view the veracity of Christianity among the Christians?  Does the company culture reflect kindness, fairness, excellence and discipline? Are the non-Christians able to see Christ in the attitudes and methods of operation?
  1. Be accountable.  Are your books available for scrutiny?  Have you invited a credible person to look over your shoulder at how you handle company finances? Is there a gray line between company and personal expenditures?
  1. Provide a quality product at a fair price.  How many times have we purchased a product only to find inferior materials and workmanship? Are you committed to delivering high grade products and service?
  1. Honor your creditors.  That means, treating your creditors as you would want to be treated if you were in their position. Delayed payment is thievery and manipulation of other peoples money.  Does the company pay their bills on time and not over-leverage their credit?
  1. Treat your employees fairly.  A close friend of mine worked for a Christian businessman for several years after completing his education. This particular businessman is known around town as a Christian, and has quite a ministry in the area. But this friend states that he consistently under pays his employees, and over charges customers for services rendered.  Other professionals in the city have confirmed these questionable practices.
  1. Treat your customers fairly.  Recently we re-did our kitchen.  The counter people came days later than promised, put in one of several sections and then disappeared for a week.  We had to badger them to return and finish the job.  A close brother in Christ who, along with his partner have been exceedingly successful in their business recently he sat in my office and passionately stated that their business was all about the customer and the employees. He and his partners personal needs were strictly secondary to meeting the needs of the customers. I stand amazed at how God continually protects and blesses them.

+The six key ideas are derived from Business by the Book Larry Burkett, Thomas Nelson, 1977 pages 16-26

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

5 September, 2007

WANT A SIMPLE AND UNDERSTANDABLE WAY TO DIG DEEPER INTO GODS WORD?

 First, choose a book of the Bible to study. If this is your first try at doing the inductive method of Bible study, I suggest you select a book that is relatively short and simple, such as 2 Timothy, Philippians, or I John.

 Second, do a survey of the book: Who wrote the book? Why?  When? What is the historical setting of the book? Outline or summarize the book. Give the book a title and record the key verse or verses for the book.  In a sentence or two, summarize the main thesis of the book.  Two excellent resources for background material are, (1) The Life Application Bible, or The NIV Study Bible.  A couple of good one volume commentaries on the whole Bible are authored by Adam Clarke and Matthew Henry. For you computer types, iExalt has excellent study material (Phone: 1-800-888-9898; Email: www.wordshearchbible.com).

 Third, study the book, one chapter at a time:

 #1 Read the first chapter over several times:  Prayerfully, analytically, and in different translations. 

#2 Take a sheet of paper and turn it sideways.  Make four columns:

Column oneObservation:  Answers the question, What does the verse say?  That is, you are an investigator; a lawyer, or a laboratory technician trying to get to the truth; to the exact meaning. No interpretation.  Just record the facts in your own words.

Column twoInterpretation:  Answers the question, What does the verse mean?  Here you are mediating on the truth of the verse.  What are its implications for me? Why is this truth important? Read between the lines. Imagine you are there. Squeeze the juice out of the verse. 

Column threeCorrelation:  Answers the question, Where else in the Scriptures does it say something similar?  Write down the connecting thought between the two verses. 

 Column fourApplication:  Answers the question, Is there a truth here that I need to apply to my life? Write down possible applications. Later at the end of the study you will select one application out of the several you may have written down.

#3 Take the first verse of chapter one and work through each of the four columns.  Each column can be developed and expanded as much or as little as you desire

#4 After you have exhausted the first verse in the chapter, then work through the next verse, column by column. The only column you will need to complete on each verse is column one.  The other three columns are flexible as to how extensively you choose to develop them. For example in the Correlation column you could have one cross reference for verse one and ten for verse two. Its up to you.

#5  After you have worked your way through the entire chapter, utilizing the four columns, complete the following:

  Give the chapter a title (no longer than eight words).

  Write down what you believe to be the key verse(s) of the chapter. 

  In a sentence record what you believe is the central theme of the chapter.  Then, in a paragraph or two, develop a defence as to why you chose your central theme.

  Application:  Look over the possible applications in your fourth column, and choose one. As you write your application, you may want to include the following steps:

1.  What, in this chapter convicts me of a needed change in my life?

2.  How exactly do I fall short? Illustrate.

3.  Specifically, what am I going to do about it?

4.  How do I plan to check up on myself?  Perhaps there someone to whom I need to be accountable.

 Fourth, repeat all of the above steps for each chapter of the book.