BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for November, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

DO YOU EVER GET DISCOURAGED OVER YOUR FRIENDS WHO CHOOSE NOT TO SURRENDER TO CHRIST?

Youve prayed, had them over for dinner, told them how Christ has wonderfully touched your life; youve tried to serve them any way possible, etc., etc.  And yet they remain outside of Christ.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend whose life, along with his wifes is a wreck.  He had just finished the book, Mere Christianity which I had given him to read. In it, C.S. Lewis masterfully presents a thoughtful and persuasive discussion on why God must exist.  My friend acknowledged the quality of Lewis argument, but dug in his heels on even considering the possibility that the truth might apply to him.  I stood there frustrated. What am I to do?

What I need is to realize:

  • The natural man is hostile toward God and wants no part of HimThe sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Rom. 8:7) (See Rom. 1:28, 30; 5:10; I Cor. 2:14)
  • All the evidence in the world will not convince the heart of a person in rebellion against God.  For example:

Jesus condemns the unbelieving masses who, in the face of His miracles refused to believe: Then Jesus began to denounce the cities where he had done most of his miracles, because they hadn’t turned from their sins and turned to God.  What horrors await you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have sat in deep repentance long ago, clothed in sackcloth and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. (Matt. 11:20, 21 NLT)

Immediately after witnessing the resurrection of Lazarus, unbelieving Jews sought to have Jesus killed:: Then Jesus shouted, Lazarus, come out! And Lazarus came out, bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, Unwrap him and let him go!  Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done [with intention of destroying him]. (Jn. 11:43-46)

Unbelievers criticized John the Baptist for his austerity, and Jesus for his liberal habits:  Jesus: "How shall I describe this generation? These people are like a group of children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you weren’t happy, so we played funeral songs, but you weren’t sad.’ For John the Baptist didn’t drink wine and he often fasted, and you say, ‘He’s demon possessed.’ And I, the Son of Man, feast and drink, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by what results from it."  (Matt. 11:16-19 – NLT)

  • It is God who will bring people to faith in His SonThose who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:25b, 26) (See Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 11:19; Act. 11:18)

What then is my responsibility? I am to faithfully and graciously model and present the message of Jesus:  Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly FatherAnd 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 (Matt. 5:16; 2 Tim. 2:24, 25a) (See Matt. 5:13, 16; Col. 4:5,6; 1 Pet. 3:15)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

EMMERSED AS I AM IN THE RAT RACE, IS TRUE JOY REMOTELY ACHIEVABLE?

The other day I sat with a dozen businessmen, as we shared the Word and talked about our lives. One thing that struck me was how over-burdened and weighed down most everyone seemed to be: Too much to do, pressure from business, concern over their children, grinding commutes. You name it. What was missing was joy, pure and simple.

I just returned from 10 days in Europe, and one thing that impressed me is that somehow the folks in that part of the world have learned to live life better than we Americans. Yes, their cars are smaller, they are living in a post-Christian era, so-called, and for the most part they dont have as much disposable income as we do.  But they seem to know a bit more about smelling the roses on their way through life. It is interesting that they tend to look at us as well-meaning, but materialistic barbarians who are hell bent on getting more and bigger of everything;  folks who have no idea of how to celebrate and live life.  I hate to admit it, but I think they might just be right.

Back to joy:  God wired us for it! We were created to celebrate Him and to celebrate life.  Yet, there is so little of it in most of our lives.  We fret, we rush, we worry, we grouse, we covet, we over-commitand we live on the daily, ubiquitous, overpowering TREADMILL.

It seems that one of Satans great strategies is to dry us up, burn us out, and generally make us angry, cynical and isolated. In a word, rob us of our God-given joy.

Consider these wonderful Scriptures that speak of the joy God intends for us to experience in our lives:

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.  (Psa. 16:11)

I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.  (Psa. 16:8, 9)

I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul  (Psa. 31:7)

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.  (Psa. 33:1-3).

Jesus:  "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that [the disciples] may have the full measure of my joy within them. (Jn. 17:13)

The fruit of the Spirit is joyRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!…Be joyful always.  (Phil. 4:4; 1 Thes. 5:16; Gal. 5:22)

I can just hear some of you saying, Right DwightFor me it will be joy in another life.  You have no idea of my situation. You are probably right.  But the Lord knows! Perhaps our prayer should be, Lord would you restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psa. 51:12)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

SHARING CHRIST

After hours of driving in torrid heat, the air conditioner on our vehicle gave out. Wheeling into an automotive repair shop, Cliff, a burley, seasoned expert on things mechanical, breathed life back into our ailing carriage. Half way through the repair work, in an attempt to share Christ, I asked, Cliff, do you have any kids? Yeah, I got five. Hows it going, raising them an all, I inquired? Better now, he offered. Hows that? Well, for 20 years I boozed and chased my way through two marriages. Four years ago, my wife took me to church, and I met Christ. Then, things began to change.

 

Cliff, I asked, do you know how to get into Gods word? No, I dont. Would you like a couple of simple, practical suggestions? Sure would, came his reply. After a few minutes of explanation, I asked Cliff, Would you mind if I prayed for you and your family, that God would give you the wisdom you need to keep your marriage and family together in this tough world? Yeah, Id like that.

Upon the completion of the repair job, Cliff and I parted with a hug, and his insistent, Theres no charge, Mr. Hill. As I turned to walk toward my car, I detected just a trace of a tear in his eye, hidden behind his sweat soaked face.

This morning, while meditating in 2 Timothy, chapter 2 – with my encounter with Cliff on my mind – I came across several principles of evangelism that will be of help to me in the future,

  Be willing to suffer for the Gospel, Paul stated, This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. (2 Timothy 2:8b,9a) (See Act. 9:16; 1 Pet. 3:16)

 

  Be sure that you are a clean vessel whom God can use, If a man cleanses himselfhe will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Tim. 2:21a,c) (See Eph. 2:10; 2 Tim. 2:20-22; Tit. 3:14)

 

  Openly acknowledge Him before others, If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Tim. 2:12b, 13) (See Matt. 10:33; Rev. 3:8)

  Make a diligent effort to accurately communicate the truth of Gods word, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truthable to teach (2 Tim. 2:15, 24b) (See 2 Cor. 4:2)

 

  Avoid getting unnecessarily embroiled in foolish argumentation, Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel (2 Tim. 2:23, 24a) (See 2 Tim. 2:14,16,25; Tit. 3:9)

 

  Recognize Gods sovereign role in bringing a person to Himself, 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. (2 Tim. 2:25) (See Act. 8:22; 1 Tim. 2:3,4)

 

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

PRACTICAL HELP IN WALKING WITH GOD TODAY

I wonder if you, like me often ask, How, in a practical way can I experience the joy, peace and presence of the Lord? How can I actually live out the abundant life Jesus promised (Jn.10:10)?  So often it seems an illusive dream.  Well, what if we took the opening verses of Psalm 37 and literally applied them to our life right now. Follow along with me:+

Don’t worry about the wicked. OK Lord, today I surrender up the evil people in my world into your hands. You dont want me to waste my emotional or spiritual capital on what I cant, for the most part control any way. You have your own plan for them.

Don’t envy those who do wrong.  Lord, I have to admit that it does get to me that so many of them get away with murder. But you are telling me to give it up. I confess that secretly I wish I could bend the rules and get away with it  like they do. That is just plain sin on my part. Forgive me.

For like grass, they soon fade away. Like springtime flowers, they soon wither.  Lord, help me to understand that you will deal with these people.  In your time justice will reign. But that is your problem, not mine. So I surrender them up to you.

Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Lord, you are telling me here to be confident in you.  To lean on you. OK, at this moment, I choose to trust in you rather than in the stock market, or in Acme Motors (where I work) to supply my needs. You are bigger than both. I choose right now to believe that you will protect and provide for my family.  Thank you Lord.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.  Lord, at this moment I choose to derive pleasure and satisfaction from you. You are my delight. All the other toys in my life are fanciful and fleeting. Only you can fulfill the deepest longings of my soul.  It blows my mind that you promise to give me the desires of my heart.  Right now I surrender my heart and desires up to you.  Would you transform my heart to conform to your will and plan for my life?

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.  Lord, in this moment I surrender the present and the future to you.  I put todays plans into your hands.  Help me to make no decision today without committing it to your sovereignty. I invite the conviction, prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit to superintend my every thought and action. Thank you that in choosing to trust you, you promise to help me.

Your innocence will be clear to everyone. He will vindicate you with the blazing light of justice shining down as from the noonday sun. Lord, you promise here to make my righteous life obvious to the people around me.  You promise to support, defend, and vindicate me like the blazing sun in the middle of the day. From this I derive comfort and courage as I venture out into a world that is in rebellion against you.

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.  Lord, help me at this moment to quiet down. I choose to rest, and trust in you. And I choose to wait for you to act in your time.  Not mine.

Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.  OK, you are telling me again not to worry or fret over wicked people.  Obviously I need to hear it more than once! 

Stop your anger! Turn from your rage! Do not envy others it only leads to harm. A third time? I know I am a slow learner. Thank you Lord for your grace and patience. Amen!

+ Verses 1-5, 7, 8 – NLT; Verse 6 – Living