BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for December, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

THE PARABLE OF THE BUSY YOUNG MAN+

  If Jesus were to come today, what might he say to someone trapped in the time crunch? This adaptation of Mark 10:17-31 might give us an idea.

As Jesus started His way, a man ran up to Him.

  Good teacher, the man asked, with a glance at his watch (he had only 10 minutes before his next appointment), what must I do to get eternal life? I could really use more time

  Why do you call me good? Jesus answered. No one is good except

  The mans cell phone rang. Hello?  Hey, Sam. Listen, Im, uh, right in the middle of something. Sort of a time-management thing. You gonna be at this number for a while? Great. Ill call you right back.

  Jesus waited patiently for the young man to finish the call.  Them He said, You know the commandments:  Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.

  The young man flipped open his planner and began scribbling. Halfway through the list, he stopped writing and looked up, puzzled. Teacher, those things have been on my quadrant two list since I got my first planner.  I mean, Ive been doing this stuff since I was a kid.  Is that it? What else do I need to do?

  Then Jesus looked at him and loved him.  One thing you lack, Jesus said.  Go, clear your schedule of all your self-important activity.  Then come and give all of your time to Me. Let Me order your days.  Fill your life with what really matters. Follow Me.

  The mans face fell. He glanced again at his watch, closed his planner, and shook his head.  He had really hoped this Jesus might give him some great new time-saving tips. But this?  He gave Jesus hand a quick shake and said, Hey, maybe we can do lunch sometime. Then he hurried away, for he had a great many things to do and places to go and people to see. 

  Jesus looked around and said, How hard it is for the busy to enter the kingdom of God!

  The disciples were jolted by His words.  But Jesus said again, Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a busy man to enter the kingdom of God.

  The disciples were even more shocked and said to each other, What about the whole Protestant work-ethic thing?  Who then can be saved?

  Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.

  Peter said to him, We have cleared our schedules of everything to follow You!

  Jesus smiled and put His arm around Peters shoulder. I tell you the truth, no one who has sacrificed to clear his schedule in order to make room for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred fold more time in this present age, and, in the age to come, time without end-and every bit of it brimming over with meaning and significance.

  For many who are busy now will have more than enough time on their hands in the day to come (for what is there to do in hell but while away the endless time?), but those who return their time to its rightful owner now will be joyfully occupied for all eternity.

Be constantly taking heed therefore how accurately you are conducting yourselves, not as unwise ones but as wise ones, buying up for yourselves the opportune time, because the days are pernicious. On this account stop becoming those who are without reflection or intelligence, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  (Eph. 5:15-17- Wuest Translation) 

+ David W. Henderson Discipleship Journal,  January/February, 2005

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

HOW, IN THIS HELTER SKELTER WORLD, ARE WE TO MAKE SENSE OF LIFE AND HOW IT IS TO BE LIVED?

HOW, IN THIS HELTER SKELTER WORLD, ARE WE TO MAKE SENSE OF LIFE AND HOW IT IS TO BE LIVED?

In Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, wise old Solomon offers us a few clues:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  (Ecc. 3:1) (See Ecc. 3:17; 7:14)

Therefore, take a deep breath and slow the pace. Sense Gods timing and then move with it. When we rush, we usually error and miss it.

A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,  a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecc. 3:2-8)  (See Job 14:5,14)

Therefore, learn to flex with the ying and yang of life.  Life is not a formula to be endured, but an  adventure to be celebrated.

He has made everything beautiful in its time(Ecc. 3:11a) (See Gen. 1:31; Deut. 32:4; Ecc. 7:29; Mk. 7:37)

Therefore, take the long view. God, on His timetable is producing something majestic and eternal. Few things in life of enduring beauty are born without time and pain.

He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. Yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecc. 3:11b)  (See Deut. 29:29; Job 11:6,7; Jn. 15:15; Act. 1:7; Rom. 1:19,20; 11:33, 34; 1 Cor. 2:16)

Therefore, respond to the pull of God on your heart for things eternal.  Rest your unknown future in His hands, trusting that He is mysteriously working His eternal wonder for His glory and your future.  How boring life would be if we understood it all!

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil–this is the gift of God. (Ecc. 3:12,13) (See Ecc 2:24; 5:18-20; 9:7)

Therefore, commemorate life! Live it to the fullest! Embrace your work as a sacred gift from God.

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere Him.  (Ecc. 3:14) (See Psa. 33:11; 119:90, 91; Isa. 46:10; Dan. 4:34, 35; Eph. 3:9-11)

Therefore, recognize that God has everything covered, choreographed and on time.  Hes not in heaven wringing His hands, anxiously worried that something might slip through the cracks. Understand that His eternal work is about His glory, not ours.

God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked  (Ecc. 3:17b) (See Psa. 98:9; Ecc. 12:14; Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Jn. 5:22, 26-29; Act. 17:31; Rom. 2:5-9; 1Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Thes. 1:6-10; Rev. 20:11-15)

Therefore, live life with a clear understanding that God will call you to account.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

HOW TO RESIST SATAN AND LIVE VICTORIOUSLY

R.E.S.I.S.T. is an acronym to help you remember how to deal with the Enemy when you are engaging in spiritual warfare:+

R esist Satan: We must make a conscious decision to resist Satan and his influence I our lives: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you…Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  (Jms. 4:7; I Pet. 5:8,9)

E xamine Satans Tactics: We cannot afford to be ignorant of his schemes and methodsSatan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.  (2 Cor. 2:11)

S hun Possible Sources of Temptation:  Flee from things or situations that might promote evil thoughts or actions: Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heartAvoid every kind of evil. (2 Tim. 2:22; 1Thes. 5:22)

I nteract with other Believers: No believer in Christ can survive as an island.  We need each others fellowship and encouragement: But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulnessLet us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  (Heb. 3:13; 10:25)

S ustain Fellowship with GodCommunicate with God through studying His word, praying, and meditating on that which is good:  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against youSo I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful natureFinally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Psa. 119:11; Gal. 5:16; Phil. 4:8,9)

A proper response to God will allow fellowship to be restored so growth can continueThis is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at allIf we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousnessTherefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  (I Jn. 1:5,9; Jms. 5:16) 

T ake Satan Seriously: He is very real and we must never minimize his power to affect our lives: But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, The Lord rebuke you!" (Jude 1:9)

+Foundations, Search Ministries, Inc., Ellicott City, Maryland 21042, Page 20

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

JOY AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

I hate to say it, but frankly, I think for most of us, our God is too small.  Weve done a pretty good job of diminishing Him to a manageable and safe size. As long as He runs our world to suite us, well surrender to Him.  In our heart of hearts I wonder if we really believe He is in control of what is going on and that He can actually be taken seriously. If we did believe, would we struggle as we do with chronic bouts of anxiety, fear and anger? If we really believed Him to be Sovereign, wouldnt our lives be filled with praise and joy? (I Pet. 1:6-9) And wouldnt we stop second-guessing His ways?  Lets be honest. When things get tough dont we tend to take matters into our own hands, as we manipulate the circumstances, refuse to surrender to the authority of Gods word, obey the Spirits inner prompting, or respond to sage, godly counsel? Whatever joy we might have once experienced is drained out of us. 

Joseph and Job serve as marvelous examples of men who rested in the Sovereignty of God.  Betrayed by his brothers, Joseph ended up in slavery and imprisonment.  Years later, he demonstrated his belief in Gods Sovereignty in stating to his brothers, "It was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all EgyptYou intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  (Gen. 45:8a; 50:20)

Job, upon learning of his loss of family and wealth, got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:20-22)

By way of contrast, Mary and Martha, after their brothers demise, lecture Jesus about his poor timing: Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have die  What they failed to realize is that the Lord purposely delayed his visit until Lazarus was dead, in order to bring glory to God by raising him to life. (Jn. 11)

To get a handle on Gods Sovereignty, we need to process through the great passages of Scripture that address this vital subject, and either shred our Bibles and admit we believe the whole thing to be a sham, or abandon ourselves to its truth. Here is a sampler:

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. (I Chron. 29:11.12)

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.

He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught

and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.  (Isa. 40:21-24) 

"This is what the Lord says–your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’ of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be built,’ and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them.’  (Isa. 44:24-26)

If you have not done so already, let me suggest that you dig into the Scriptures in order to own this marvelous truth of Gods Sovereignty.  As this truth takes hold, you will find your soul settling down and resting in God. A quiet inner joy will begin to emerge from within you as you  are now able to thank Him for the past, and trust Him for the future.  Heres s place to start:

Gen. 45:8; 50:20; Num. 22:12; 22:18; 23:26; 24:13; Deut. 4:39; 2 Sam. 5:23; l 7:26; 12:11; 17:14; 1 King. 11:35; 12:15; 1 Chron. 21:10; 28:3; 29:12; 2 Chron. 6:9; 10:15; 35:21; 36:23; Ezra 6:22; Job 9:12; Job 12:14; Psa. 22:28; 24:8; 29:10; 47:2, 8; 83:18; 93:1; 135:6; Pro. 21:1; Isa. 7:7;10:12; 37:16; 41:2; 44:28; 45:23; Jer.18:6; 28:14; Ezek. 20:33; 26:3; 28:7; 29:19; Dan. 2:20; 4:26;  4:32, 35; 5:21, 26; Matt.. 6:13; 20:15; Act. 17:24; Rom. 9:11, 19; 11:7, 29; 1 Cor. 12:18; Eph. 1:11; Jude 24, 25.