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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for November, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TRUTH, IDENTITY AND PURPOSE (Part 3 of 3)

In our two previous Facts we made the points: 1. TRUTH: What we as a people have commonly held to be the truth is now out the window, and 2.  IDENTITY: Today, many young adults have become a temporary and accidental collection of conflicting forces and impulses; confused as to who they are, why they are here and where they are going.  

Our Facts today focuses on issue 3.  PURPOSE: Common among young adults today is the feeling that there is no purpose in life.  One reason is because they have thrown out the Judeo-Christian values upon which our society was built; values which they believe have proved to be oppressive, imperialist and self-serving. Consequently the common perception for many is that we are out there somewhere, floating in space, void of purpose, the product and victim of chance. 

The fact is that just the opposite is true for the follower of Christ. From all eternity God has had a purpose for mankind in which he intends to involve us.  The purpose is that we partner with God in bringing the lost people of the world into his Kingdom. Beginning with Abraham, God commissioned him and his descendants (and thats us if we have Christ) to get the Gospel out to the world.  (Gen. 12:1-4; Gal. 3:16, 29)  Based on the authority given him, (Matt. 28:18) Christ entrusted us with his precious message and commanded us to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them all that he taught.  (I Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:12-14; 2 Cor. 4:1, 2; Matt. 28:19).  

Our challenge is to communicate the message of Christ in a winsome manner that captures the hearts and minds of our hearers. This presents a unique challenge because the Gospel in the Scriptures is not packaged in a neat formula but is presented in a rich and diverse tapestry of truth. 

Following are Scriptures that encapsulate the Gospel that you may find useful as you reach out to others:

  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn. 3:16)

  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Rom. 5:8)

  Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture; that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  (I Cor. 15:3b4)

  God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  (2 Cor. 5:19a)

  Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.  (I Pet. 3:18)  

  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (I Jn. 3:15)

  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (I Jn. 4:10)

Whatever your situation in life, God has purposed you to be his ambassador to a dark, confused, and lost world.  We are talking here about your world of friends and associates that you are uniquely qualified and positioned to reach.

Godgave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…  (2Cor. 5:18 -20 – Selected)  (See Matt. 5:13, 16)

QUESTION:  Are you willing to rise to the challenge?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TRUTH, IDENTITY AND PURPOSE (Part 2 of 3)

In last weeks Facts we pointed out one of three mega changes transpiring in our culture:  1. TRUTH: What we as a people have commonly held to be the truth is now out the window.

A cherished American icon (for right or wrong you decide!) is that of the lone cowboy, tall in the saddle, braving the harsh elements of the wilderness against all odds.  His rugged self-sufficiency is personified in men like Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Teddy Roosevelt, and the boys at Google.  These individuals embody Americas can-do spirit. We knew who we were and what we were to be about! Until now, that is.  

2.  IDENTITY: Today however, many young adults have become a temporary and accidental collection of conflicting forces and impulses; confused as to who they are, why they are here, and where they are going. 1  

This however is not the case for the serious follower of Christ who is rooted in Gods word, He knows he is a child of God with eternal life and purpose, in spite of the confusing identity crisis  swirling around him. For example:

He knows that he has been chosen by God from all eternity:  He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Eph. 1:4; Jer. 31:3b)  (See Rom. 8:29, 30; 2 Thes. 2:13, 14; Tit. 1:1, 2; 1 Pet. 1:1,2)

He knows he is created in Gods image: God said, Let us make man in our image… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  (Gen. 1:26a, 27) (See Gen. 5:1; I Cor. 11:7)

He knows it is Gods intention that he be intimately related to Him: "Godhas called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our LordMy prayer is that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  (1 Cor. 1:9; Jn. 17:21) (See Jn. 17:3, 22, 23, 26)

He knows that even though sin marred mankind, it is Gods intention to conform him into His likeness: Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothersYou were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Rom. 8:29 ; Eph. 4:22-24)  (See 1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:13; Col. 3:10; 1 Jn. 3:2)

He knows God has a purpose and plan for his life: The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me…For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do…May the God of peaceequip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. AmenFor I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to himHe predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and willIn him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his gloryHaving believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.  (Ps. 138:8a; Eph. 2:10 ; Heb. 13:20a, 21; Jer. 29:11; Ps. 4:3; Eph 1:5, 7, 11-14) (See Jn. 10:1-21; Act. 17:28, 29; Tit. 2:14; Psa. 57:2; 79:9 115:1; Isa. 48:10, 11; Eph. 1:5,6; Phil. 1:6; 2:13)

QUESTION:  Into which camp do you fall? That of the confused modern who takes his queues from whatever pop values happen to float to the surface this week, month or decade?  Or are you deeply rooted in God as a result of prayerfully internalizing the ageless truths of the sacred Scriptures?

1 The Challenge of Jesus J. T. Wright, page 115

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TRUTH, IDENTITY AND PURPOSE (Part 1 of 3)

TRUTHBelieve it: We are living in a time of rapid and profound cultural changes that have weighty implications not only for us, but also for our children and succeeding generations to come.  People born before the 1960s often find these changes confusing and threatening. Many put their head in the sand, retreat into their own world, and pretend the onslaught is not really happening. At the risk of over simplification, let me summarize three of these mega changes:

1. What we as a people have commonly held to be the truth is now out the window.  By that I mean the Judeo-Christian foundation of truth.  Today, in the minds of most moderns, there is no such thing as objective truth or values; only preferences. The result is that everyone creates his own reality. 

The question then arises as to how we as followers of Christ are to respond?  Fundamentally, we need to understand and embrace the fact that the Triune God is the ultimate source, essence and standard of truth. In their rebellion against God, the peoples of the world, and the values that define their cultures gyrate from one extreme to another under the subversive influence of Satan, the father of lies. (Jn. 8:44) Ephesians 4:14 talks about the importance of  believers maturing in the knowledge of Christ so that they will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

Thus it is only as we are anchored in God and his truth that we will not become victims of Satans deception and the ever shifting winds of change that are currently engulfing us with brutal force. The truth about God is that, He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are just: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is heThe Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal KingAll your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternalThe law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Deu. 32:4, Jer. 10:10a; Psa. 119:160; Jn. 1:17; 14:6) (See I Jn. 5:20)

Not only are we to be anchored in the truth of God and Christ, we are to live out that truth in our daily affairs: But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through GodIf we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teethwe’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sinI can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father. (Jn. 3:21 NIV; I Jn. 1:6, 7; 2 Jn. 1:4 Msg.)  (See 3 Jn. 1:3, 4)

Tragically, many Christian leaders today, in their desire to reach the young modern, have themselves been subverted by our increasingly relativistic society that elevates tolerance to near deity status.  Christianese for tolerance is the over-used and abused word grace; a term that is often contorted to mean Christian liberty without the corresponding responsibility:  What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Rom. 6:1, 2) In attempting to relate and appeal to our pluralistic society, it is all to easy to compromise or even subvert the truth and its demands on our lives by cozying up to the godless values of our declining culture.  It is my bet that when the pure message of the Gospel is modeled and articulated with grace and truth, searching hearts will respond accordingly.  (See Jn. 1:14, 16, 17)

QUESTION:  Proverbs 22:3 instructs us, A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered. (Msg) What practical steps are you currently taking to arm yourself against the perversion of truth that surrounds you to insure that you too are not clobbered?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CHOOSING BETWEEN SATANS LIES AND GODS TRUTH (Part 2 of 2)

Just a reminder from last weeks Facts:

God has made wonderful promises to us for victory over our sin and self-deception, if we know, choose to believe, claim, and live them out:  Jesusdivine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:3,4 NLT)

OLD LIFE Lies:   NEW LIFE Truth 1:

What I think or feel about myself     What is true about me

8. I am unwanted or I dont belong to anyone.  I have been adopted by God and am His child. Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 4:5-7; Eph 1:5; 1 Jn. 3:2

9. I feel guilty.  I am totally forgiven. Psa. 103:12; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14, 20; Heb. 10:17

10. I am depressed and helpless.   I have all the help I need. Psa. 16:11; 27:13; 31:24; Rom. 15:13

11. There is nothing special about me.  I have been chosen, set apart by God. Psa. 139:1; I Cor. 1:30 ; 6:11 ; Heb. 10:10, 14

12. I am not good enough.   I am perfect in Christ. Col. 2:13; Heb. 10:14

13. I am defeated.   I am victorious. Rom. 8:37 ; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 Jn. 5:4

14. I have no strength.   I have Gods power; I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Act. 1:8; Rom.8:9, 11; Eph. 1:19 ; 3:16

15. I feel condemned.    I am blameless. Jn. 3:18; Rom. 8:1

16. I am alone.   I am never alone. Rom. 8:38 ,39; Heb. 13:5

17. I have no one to take care of me.   I am protected. Safe. Psa. 27:1-6; 32:7-11; 41

18. I cant reach God.   I have access to God. Matt. 7:7, 8; Eph. 2:6; I Pet. 2:5,9

19. I am afraid of Satan.   I have authority over Satan. Col. 1:13; 1 Jn. 4:4; Rev. 12:7-11

20. I have no confidence.   I have all the confidence I need. Pro.3:26 ; 14:26 ; 28:1; Eph. 3:12; Heb. 10:19-22

1 The War Within Robert Daniels, Crossway Books, Wheaton , IL pgs 77-79