BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF US?

What would it take to insure that when we meet God in eternity he would greet us with, Well done good and faithful servant. (Matt. 25:21) Possess a deeper prayer life? Witness more to the lost? Give more money?  Disciple more and better? Be more faithful in our time with God? Etc., Etc.

Doubtless, we all have an ideal in our mind to which we feel we should attain.  Yet most of us would readily admit that we feel we are falling miserably short of that ideal.

So what is the bottom line as to what God expects of us?  Jesus summarized it in stating: All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments: (Matt. 22:40)

1)  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matt. 22:37,38)

2)  Love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matt.22:39)

Nothing more and nothing less. Jesus castigated the Pharisees for adding more than 600 of their man made laws to Gods laws.  And guess what?  We may be guilty of exactly the same thing.  (See Col. 2:16-23)

What does it mean to love God? 

1)  Obey his word without equivocationWhoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (See Jn. 14:14; I Jn. 5:3)

2)  Maintain your first love for God:  John wrote to the church at Ephesus: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. (Rev. 2:2-4) (See Eph. 1:15)

What does it mean to love others as ourselves?  Get serious about becoming the essence of Jesus love toward others as explained in I Corinthians 13. (See Jn. 13:34, 35)  Perhaps the two most powerful illustrations of that love in the Scriptures is:

1)  Jesus:Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!  (Phil. 2:5-8)

2)  The Good Samaritan,  who was: (Lk. 10:25-37)

  Aware of the needy around him. (vs. 33).

  Willing to put his life at risk for others. (vs. 10:30)

  Willing to make the necessary sacrifices to minister to those in need.  (vss. 34,35)

Now, I am writing to gifted, accomplished people who know how to make things happen. Could it be that such folks tend to pile drive their way through the day from one task to another? They have their agenda and by jibes, it is gonna get done! But what about the broken, needy people God places in their path?  Are they learning to slow down, and be prompted by the Spirit to observe and become involved at whatever the cost?  (See Matt. 25:31-46)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

THREE PROMISES OF HOPE WHEN I AM SINKING INTO THE ABYSS OF DEFEAT OR DISPAIR

 

1) My survival in troubled times:  As I write this article, we seem to be in a global crisis over the energy issue.  Because there is uncertainty in the air as to the long term implications, it is easy for me to find myself in an anxious state of fear. Will God continue to provide?

 

And Gods wonderful promise to his children comes back: You give relief from troubled times. The LORD will not reject his people; he will not abandon his own special possession.  (Psa.  94:13, 14) (See 2 Cor. 4:17, 18; 2 Thes. 1:6-8; Rev. 14:13)

My prayerLord, today, I choose to rest in your promise to take care of your righteous ones.  Amen.

2) My feeling that I am slipping: Here how it plays out for me in my times of temptation and stress:  All the ugly stuff seems to surface:  Anger, impatience, a nasty tongue and a compounding frustration that leads to the inevitable downward spiral into the abyss.  Often it starts out with some rather innocuous irritation that I let get the best of me, and before I know it, I am ricocheting out of control. What usually follows are doubts about my sense of worth, what others think of me, and questioning my worthiness before God.

Yet, He is there to meet me in my moments of crisis: I cried out, I'm slipping! and your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.  (Psa. 94:18, 19 NLT) (See Psa. 37:23, 24; 119:116, 117; 121:3; Isa. 41:10; Lk. 22:32)

My prayer:  Lord, thank you for your forgiveness and promise of comfort, hope and cheer.  By faith, I now receive your provision, in Jesus name. Amen.

3) My insecurities and fears, living as I do in an evil world:  Can unjust leaders claim that God is on their side leaders who permit injustice by their laws? They attack the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD is my fortress; my God is a mighty rock where I can hide. (Psa. 94:20, 21 NLT) 

Amidst the fray of cut throat business competition, people all around me are shading the truth, cutting corners, and taking the un-principled easy path.  If I dare choose the lonely road of integrity; if I dare  speak out against the culture of corruption and injustice if I dare to try and change the system, I am branded and marginalized as some kind of nut, and ejected from the inner circle of the in crowd. It a word, it will cost me dearly.

Here is Gods assurance to me:  But the LORD is my fortress; my God is a mighty rock where I can hide.  (Psa. 94:22 NLT) (See Psa. 27:1-3; 59:16, 17; 62:2,6)

My prayerLord, in my moments of perplexity in a world of selfishness and corruption, help me to find my refuge in you, and in you alone.

CONCLUSION:  In Hebrews 13:5, God promises us, I will never leave you nor forsake you.  As Oswald Chambers reminds us, Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life, but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake meBut as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have Gods assurance behind us [that he will never leave nor forsake us] the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WHY OUR MARRIAGE REALLY WORKS AFTER THESE 43 YEARS! (Part 4 of 4)

 

In the last three weeks we have discussed the fact that:

1)  We learned how to mutually accept each other as uniquely designed by God

 

2)  We have been committed to the same purpose and calling in life:  Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?  (Amo. 3:3)

 

3)  We determined that we would serve each other over and above ourselves:

 

4)  We built our marriage on a solid biblical foundation: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  (Matt. 7:24, 25) (See Pro. 24:3,4) 

 

From before our engagement we understood:

 

– The importance of the daily quiet time.  By that I mean a specified time daily, preferably the first thing in the morning, for prayerful meditation on the word of God. We realized that without this vital connection with God we would not become the Christ like person our spouse would love through thick and thin.

 

– That we needed to know how God intended for us to live, especially as it pertained to a biblical marriage relationship.  Thus, we internalized passages like Ephesians 5:21-33; I Peter 3:1-12 and I Corinthians 13:4-8.

 

QUESTION:  What action steps do you need to take to begin building a solid foundation of Gods word into your life? One place to start is to carve out 10 minutes, the first thing in the morning.  Prayerfully meditate on a small portion of Scripture.

5) We learned how to maintain communications with each other

We understood that communication is:

–  The meeting of meanings (Paul Tournier)

–  Understanding the meaning behind the words spoken. 

–  Learning and responding to your spouses love language: Words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch (The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

–  Recognizing that talking and having sex is not necessarily communication.

–  Learning the art of disciplined listening with the head and the heart.

 –  Learning to respect the other persons point of view.

 –  Attacking the problematic issue rather than the person.

–  Courageously facing and resolving problems, rather than sweeping them under the rug. 

–  Not allowing bitterness or resentment to remain in the relationship.

(See Pro. 17:27; 18:21; Col. 3:19; Jms. 1:19, 20

 

We learned how to establish and maintain communication, by planning quality time together.

–  We planed for a daily quality connection even if it is only for a few minutes.  Pray together

–  We planned a weekly date night.

–  We scheduled monthly or quarterly blocks of time together to evaluate, plan, re-connect, and have fun.

 

QUESTION: Do you think your spouse feels that the two of you are in fact in touch with each other at the deepest level? One suggestion: Schedule a day or two on your calendar where the two of you can get away to re-connect.  One goal would be to find out if either of you harbor resentment or bitterness toward the other.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WHY OUR MARRIAGE REALLY WORKS AFTER THESE 43 YEARS! (Part 3 of 4)

 

In the last two weeks we have discussed the fact that:

1)  We learned how to mutually accept each other as uniquely designed by God

2)  We have been committed to the same purpose and calling in lifeCan two walk together, unless they are agreed?  (Amo. 3:3)

3)  We determined that we would serve each other over and above ourselves:

 

As followers of Christ, we knew that we were called to emulate him in his humility, and that servant hood is the practical application of humility:

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  (Mk. 10:43-45)

We built our concept of service to each other on the one another passages:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  (Eph. 4:31, 32)

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  (Eph. 5:21)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  (1 Thes. 5:11)

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. (Heb. 3:13)

 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Heb. 10:24)
 
 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (I Pet. 1:22)

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (I Pet. 3:8)

Because it is a womans nature to adapt to her husband, we both knew that it would be all to easy for me, the husband to exploit my wife, Ruth.  We also knew that the Scriptures do not allow husbands that option:

Husbandsbe considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.  (I Peter 3:7)

QUESTION: If I were to ask your spouse if he or she felt that you were a true servant to him or her, what would he or she say? A couple of suggestions for husbands: For the next week make a conscious effort to lift the load around the house, such as taking out the garbage before she asks you.  Help with getting the kids to bed.  Fill her car with gas. Pick up you own mess, etc.