BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for May, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

WHAT IS YOUR MISSION AS YOU MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH YOUR DAY?

Is it about moving ahead in commerce, technology, marketing, or education?  Wellyes. But isnt there something more at stake here that is eternal in nature? Today, as you engage in the pulsating, pounding and pugilistic world of make or break; win or lose; do or die, it would be easy to miss the spiritual challenges God may have placed in your path.  Galatians 6:1-5 presents five:

If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.  (vs.1) Perhaps there is a fellow believer who is teetering on the brink of sinning, or is presently engaged in an activity inappropriate for a believer.  In the spirit of gentleness and self-examination are you willing to pay the considerable price of getting involved in seeking to restore him on the right path?  (See Gen. 9:20-24; Matt. 6:69-75; Jas. 5:19, 20) 

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (vs.2) You may be in touch with someone with a heavy heart carrying a burdensome load, such as a grave domestic, financial, career, or health problem. Do you care enough to fulfill the law of Christ (love) by helping lift his load? Wise, old King Solomon instructs us, Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. (Pro. 3:27)  (See Exo. 23:5; Isa. 58:6, 7; Matt. 11:28-30; Matt. 7:12; Jn. 15:12)

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  (vs.3) The name of the game in the marketplace is about image and performance, because thats where the accolades and advancement lie. When success comes, it is all to easy to forget the Scriptural admonitions: Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealthFor who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?..Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him  (Deut. 8:18; 1 Cor. 4:7; Pro. 26:12) (See Pro. 25:14; Lk. 18:11:12; Rom. 12:16; 1 Cor. 3:18; 8:2)

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.  (vs.4) The Scriptures admonish: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  (2 Cor. 13:5a) As we scrutinize our lives, we would do well to invite God into the process by praying, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psa. 139:23, 24) Again, Paul cautions us, We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise (2 Cor. 10:12) Rather, our goal must be to grow in the character of Christ, until we all reach the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:13)  (See Job 13:15; Psa. 26:2; 1 Cor. 11:28)

Each one should carry his own load.  (vs.5) None of us can claim moral superiority over others.  If we will take the time and effort for the self-examination mentioned in the previous paragraph, we will become woefully aware of our own failings. Dealing with those failings should absorb us to the point that we no longer have the time or inclination to compare ourselves with others. (See Matt. 7:1-5)

QUESTION:  In the marketplace where everything seems to move at lightening speed; where its every man for himself, and where image, winning, and getting there first with the most spells the difference between success and failure, it is all to easy to miss what God desires to do in and through us as his ambassadors.  In fact, he is calling us to live and operate at a higher plane than the secularist or materialist. Are you choosing to tune into what God is doing in the lives of the people in your world, and to participate with him as his chosen instrument?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

WHEN GOD SEEMS DISTANT AND DISINTERESTED IN ME

There are those times in our lives when God seems so far away; almost as though He doesnt care or isnt listening. I cry out to Him in the darkness and am greeted with deafening silence.  Coupled with His sense of absence are those periods when the Scriptures seem so flat, and the Spirit so unavailable. 

Surely you have had those periods in your life, havent you?  Or am I alone here?

Jesus faced a profound sense of Gods abandonment at Calvary when He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46).  When the Lord Jesus uttered this chilling cry he was quoting from Psalm 22. Psalm 22:1 adds this to His anguish, Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

So just what are you to do in those times of spiritual crisis when you feel abandoned by God? Psalm 22 gives us a number of clues:

  Choose to praise, honor and revere GodYou are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel…You who fear the Lord, praise Him…Honor HimRevere Him  (Vss. 3, 23 – Selected)

Perhaps the ultimate test of our walk with God is how we respond to Him when the bottom falls out. A close friend whose wife has suffered for decades with a painful illness, is now facing the agonizing reality of an adult child with cancer.  There has not been one word of doubt or complaint uttered from their lips. Rather, these veterans of suffering portray poise, praise, and a deep sense of rest in God. Clearly, they have learned through the tough school of life to trust and believe in Gods goodness, sovereignty and promises. 

  Choose not to seek other gods as a substitute for what only the living God can provide: Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me.  (Vs. 11 – NLT)

In todays supermarket of ready made solutions, we seem to run first to every thing and every one except God. There is nothing wrong with seeking out help, but should not our first and natural response be to fall on our face before God? To hide ourselves away with Him in unrushed times of solitude and prayerful meditation upon His word as we listen for His voice?  Or are we seeking man-made gods for the quick and often trite answers to lifes perplexities and pain? 

  Choose to remain steady in your previous commitment to GodBefore those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. (Vs. 25b)

In your pilgrimage, doubtless you have made certain commitments to Him. Remain steady in them. Learn to wait for God to move. On His timetable. Dont jump around,  running helter skelter for easy or quick solutions.  Learn to live life daily. Even moment by moment.  Accept the fact that much of life is pretty pedestrian, like taking out the garbage, dealing in a godly manner with the traffic. Disciplining and molding testy kids. Graciously handling your back pain and difficult relatives.  Godliness is usually tested and developed in the crucible of the little noticed routines of daily life. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with muchWhen you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. (Luke 16:10; Ecc. 5:4)

Choose to believe that God is sovereign and that ultimately His purposes will prevailThe poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him–may your hearts live forever! For dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him– those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn–for he has done it.  (Vss. 26, 28-31)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

DWELLING WITH GOD

Every now and then you encounter followers of Christ who possess a quiet center. A sense of rest. Most of us lets admit it have the accelerator pushed through the floorboard as we race toward the future. Were wound tight and overloaded. Gods calling for us however is to dwell yes, dwell in Him: How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  (Ps 84:1; 90:1) The idea here is of living in God as a place of habitation where He becomes our abode. Our retreat. Our place of asylum. You and I know that when we are jamming the petal to the metal, there is no way we are dwelling. So, what would a person who dwells in God look like? According to Psalm 84, he would possess:

A ravaging hunger for God that borders on desperation: My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.  (Vs. 2)

QUESTION:  Is my desire for God a rather ho hum affair?  Sort of a business as usual thing? Or do I share with the Psalmist his intense passion:  As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. (Ps. 42:1,2a) If my hunger has been dulled, what is the root cause? (See Psa. 63:1,2)

A recognition that even the least among us are Gods candidates to dwell intimately in HimEven the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young–a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.  (Vs. 3)

QUESTION:  As insignificant as I may feel, do I comprehend the fact that it is the desire of the living God that I dwell intimately in Him?  Am I allowing Him full access to my heart and my will?

A heart of praise: Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you (Vs. 4)

QUESTION:  Am I choosing to praise God for the good and the difficult? Or am I basically a thankless person?

A life empowered by God: Blessed are those whose strength is in you.  (Vs. 5a)

QUESTION:  Am I giving the Holy Spirit free reign in my life to empower me for the days tasks and challenges? Or am I grinding it out on in my own?

A single-minded commitment to the pilgrimage: Blessed are thosewho have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  (Vs. 5b)

QUESTION:  Have I settled it with God that I am going with Him all the days of my life? Have I burned the bridges so that He is the only option? Or am still piddling around with a half-baked commitment to Him?  You know, defeated one day, and on top of it the next?

A determination to overcome difficult situations: As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springsThey go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. (Psa. 84:6, 7 – Selected)

QUESTION:  How do I view lifes difficulties?  As insurmountable problems? Or as opportunities to trust God and grow in my walk with Him?  When the going gets rough, am I a quitter or a finisher?

An eternal perspective: Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. (Psa. 84:10)

QUESTION:  Do I possess an eternal perspective?  Or am I deceived and seduced by the worlds temporary toys?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

MAKING SENSE OUT OF THE END TIMES

Ever wonder whether or not we are living in the end times?  Everyone, it seems has an opinion on this perplexing subject. In my lifetime I have seen numerous people foolishly predict this or that about the end of the world only to be proven wrong.  When the disciples asked Christ about the restoration of His Kingdom, he replied, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  (Act. 1:7) (See Matt. 24:36)

From Matthew 24 (one of the primary biblical passages on the end of this age) Christ gives us a number of understandable attitudes and action that we are to take during that period:

Dont be easily misled: "Watch out that no one deceives you…many false prophets will appear and deceive many peopleAt that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possibleSo if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. (Vss.4,11,23, 24, 26)  (See Matt. 7:15; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Jn. 2:18,26; 4:1)

Keep cool headed amidst the coming mayhem: You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  (Vs. 6) (See Psa. 27:1-3; 46:13; 112:7; Isa. 12:2)

Expect persecution:  "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.  (Vs. 9) (See Matt. 10:17-22; 23:34; Lk. 11:49; 21:16, 17; Jn. 16:2; 1 Thess. 2:14-16)

Expect to go it alone: At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. (Vs. 10)  (See Matt. 13:57; 26:31, 34; Mk. 4:17; Jn. 6:60, 61, 66, 67; 2 Tim. 1:15; 4:16)

Keep your heart warm toward God amidst escalating wickedness: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. (Vss. 12) (See Rev. 4:1-4; 5:1-6; Rev. 2:4,5; 3:15-20)

Plan to endure through difficult times: He who stands firm to the end will be savedSo when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:27) –let the reader understandFor then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Vs. 13, 15, 21, 22)

Engage in evangelism, and global missions: And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.  (Vs. 14) (See Matt. 16:15; Lk. 24:47; Rom. 10:18; 16:25; Col. 1:6, 23; Rev. 14:6)

Understand what Christs return will look likeFor as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of ManAt that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great gloryNow learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is nearEven so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. (Vss. 27, 30, 32, 33) (See Matt. 24, 25; Mk. 13; Jn. 14:1-3; Tit. 2; 2 Pet. 3:4-11; 1 Thess. 4:13-18)