BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for August, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

REFLECTING GOD IN THE MARKET PLACE: HIS SUPREMACY (Part 1 of 10)

My guess is that you probably work in a rough and tumble environment that is antithetical – even hostile to the character of God and to your new nature in Christ. Given the winner take all ethos of many work places, it is all too easy to be dominated by the fear of men. How easy, it would be, for example, to look at those in positions of power and authority over us, and view ourselves and them as did the ten spies who scoped out the Promised Land: We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." (Num. 13:33b)

So, how do we, as Christs followers live righteously and fruitfully in a marketplace that usually militates against kingdom values? For the next several weeks, we will seek to answer that question as we consider a number of the attributes of Gods and their bearing on our lives as we live out our profession and calling.  

If we can grasp the Supremacy of the One who holds us in the palm of His hand and determines the course of our lives, the fear of man will diminish, and we will learn the remarkable solace of resting in His supremacy. (See Jn. 10:28, 29; Pro. 21:1)

The good news is that:

The Supreme One, who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (I Jn. 4:4).

Jesus reassures us to Take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33b)." (See Rom. 8:37; 1 Jn. 5:4)

The Scriptures remind us of the Fathers supremacy in stating, [God is]  our Father.  We are the  clay, you [God] are the potter;  we are all  the  work of your  handYours, 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  (Isa. 64:8b; 1 Chronicles 29:11, 12). (See 2 Chron. 20:6) (See Dan. 4:34, 35; Rev. 4:11; 5:12,13; 7:12)

One day presidents, popes, emperors, and yes, CEOs will surrender to his supremacy: At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10b, 11). (See Rom. 14:10-12)

Whatever the jostling and power plays of the marketplace, whatever the economic tension, whatever the decaying moral conditions, our lives are neither the product of blind fate nor the result of capricious chance, but every detail of them was ordained from all eternity, and is ordered by the living and reigning God. Not a hair of our heads can be touched without His permission. In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Pro. 16:9). 1 What assurance, peace, and strength this should give you, His sincere follower. (See Pro. 19:21; 20:24; Isa. 46:10; Jer. 10:23)

Perhaps our prayer should be:  Lord, my times are in your hands, therefore let me rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him (Psa. 31:15; 37:7). Today Lord I acknowledge your Supremacy not only in my life but in the world around me. I choose to rest in the fact that nothing escapes your knowledge and supreme control. I choose to believe that you have your glory and my best interests at heart.

1 The Attributes of God Arthur W. Pink, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI, pg. 31

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

DISCERNING GODS CALL ON MY LIFE

Discerning the will and calling of God on our lives can be one of the most challenging areas in the life of a believer. I remember having lunch with a highly respected pastor who confided that he was struggling with discerning the will of God. I remember thinking, Good grief, if he has these questions, where does that leave me?

Consider St. Pauls strong emphasis on knowing the will of God: Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:14-17 Amp.)

Below are some questions that may help you clarify Gods will and calling for your life: +

1. What do I want to accomplish with my life? (See Jn. 4:34; 17:4; Act. 20:24; 2 Tim. 4:7,8)

2. What are my spiritual gifts, natural talents, learned abilities? (See Rom. 12:6-8; I Cor. 12:1-11, 28-31; 14:1-40; I Pet. 4:10, 11).

3. What are my limitations, weaknesses, needs and issues? (See Rom. 12:3; I Cor. 15:10)

4. What is my capacity in terms of work, time, emotional and physical health?

5. What phase of ministering to others am I most interested in?

6. What results has God given in my past ministry to people? What results is God giving in my preset ministry to others?

7. What ministry skills and training do I have? To do what?

8. What ministry needs exist in my context which I can meet?

9. What are my personal development needs? And how do I plan to address them?

10. What indications do I have from God regarding His specific leading and call?

Past history of fruitful ministries.

Promises/verses or passages from the Word of God.

Peace of heart.

Where to minister; to whom; with whom.

11. What burden or passion do I have for serving God? To what? To whom? When?

12. What affirmations do I have from others regarding their assessment of my areas of strength or specialty?

13. What can hinder me from responding positively to Gods personal call on my life?

14. With all thats been happening in my life, how is God defining ministry for me?

+ Adapted from NavNews What is your personal call? – A newsletter of the Navigators Singapore 12/02/2007

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WE ARE THE LETTER

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote itnot with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives (2 Cor. 3:2, 3 Selected)

Jesus understood the power of example in influencing people. In fact, he keyed off of the example of his heavenly Father: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (Jn. 5:19) (See Jn. 5:30; 14:24)

Jesus used the power of example to shape his disciples lives. One study reveals that 80% of his three years of ministry was given to influencing them. The night before the cross he washed their feet, concluding with this powerful challenge: I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (Jn. 13:15)

Would the fact that 10 out of the 12 disciples were martyred for going to the ends of the earth proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah suggest that he had shaped their lives by his example?

Years later Peter wrote about Jesus example: Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (I Pet. 2:21) He also wrote instructions to wives on how, through the power of example, to influence their deviant husbands:

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (1 Pet. 3:1-4)

Edmund Burke wrote, People will learn at the school of example and they will learn at none other.

Think about how St. Paul forcefully shaped Timothys life by the power of his example: You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance.And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Tim. 3:10a; 2:2)

Paul wrote to the Philippians about the importance of example: Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. (Phil. 3:17) The word pattern here means a proto type; a model. (See Phil. 4:9; I Cor. 4:16; 11:1; 1Thes. 1:6; 2Thes. 3:7,9; Heb. 13:7.)

QUESTION: Are you able with a clear conscience to say to the people whom you are seeking to influence, Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice? (Phil. 4:9a) Is your life in fact a pattern that others can observe and emulate toward becoming more Christ like?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psa. 11:3)

You and I are observing the erosion of the foundations of our civilization; a corrosion that threatens the very basis of the good life we have so enjoyed. Dostoevsky once wrote that if God did not exist, everything would be permitted. As you look around, it seems that much of our Western world has lost the awareness that God exists, and thus believes that anything is permitted. It often appears that the only spirit that we recognize is our own.

St. Paul, in looking out over the people of his age made this disturbing parallel observation: In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power (2 Tim. 3:1b-5a).

C. S. Lewis in his book, The Abolition of Man viewed Western civilizations disintegration with ever increasing catastrophic consequences. We are in the process of losing our humanity. It happens that men and women who once were human are simply no longer so. They have become nothing but minds and matter, brains and bodies, computers and consumers, calculators and copulates, constructers and cloners, who believe that they are free and powerful but in fact are being destroyed by the very Nature that they wish to conquer as they are enslaved to an oligarchy of Conditioners who are themselves enslaved and destroyed by their insane strivings to defile, design, manage, and manipulate a world and a humanity bereft of the God who boundlessly loves them. 1

As we experience this tsunami that is sweeping away our spiritual foundations, consider the following injunctions from the Scriptures for us to hold steady:

"You shall not follow the masses in doing evil (Ex. 23:2a).

You shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations [around you] (Deut. 18:9b).

Dont let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould (Rom. 12:2a Philips Trans.).

Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (Jms. 4:4b).

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance (I Pet. 1:14).

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (I Jn. 2:15, 16).

QUESTION: Are you more than hungry for God? Starving? When the prodigal son was hungry, he went to feed on the husks. But when he was starving, he went to his father. So, my friend, let me ask you, are you hard after God, or just dabbling at it?  I hope it is the former, because only that kind of desperate passion for God will keep you and me from succumbing to the crumbling spiritual foundations that surround us.

1 (First Things, Page 72, December 2007)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

HOW TO NOT LOSE THE JOY, LIVING AS WE DO IN A TROUBLED WORLD

One of Satans master strategies is to steal our heart and mind away from our focus on Christ through our grousing, worrying and complaining over the troubles we encounter in our world: The constant gyrations in the political arena, grappling with our national moral and spiritual crisis, the non-ethical shenanigans we are continuously running up against in the marketplace, the incessantly intrusive assault by the media in riling us up to live in a constant state of crisis. How easily we can be robbed of our joy in Christ by unnecessarily, and even unwittingly becoming embroiled in the worlds troubling issues. St. Paul shared such a concern in cautioning the believers in the City of Corinth:

I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Cor. 11:3)

Curious, is it not, how little attention both Jesus and Paul gave to reforming their troubled world.  Clearly, it was Jesus intent that his followers not be carried away by the worlds troubles: In him, he said, you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16:33). (See Act. 14:22) The Savior knew that the way to respond to the worlds evil was not by  grousing, worrying or complaining, but by transforming it, one heart at a time.

Sohow are we to keep the world from robbing us of our sincere and pure devotion to Christ? Psalm 37:2-9 offers us some wonderful pointers:

Choose not to become embroiled in fussing over the worlds injustices, recognizing that God will deal with the wicked in his way, and on his timetable: Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die awayRefrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.  For evil men will be cut off (Psa. 37:1, 2, 8, 9 selected). (See Psa. 24:1; Pro. 24:19)

Hold steady, trusting God for protection and provision as you fulfill the responsibilities set before you: Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture (Psa. 37:4).  (See Psa. 23:1; Jer. 17:7, 8; 1 Cor. 15:58)

Choose to make God the delight of your heart, knowing that he in turn will grant you your hearts desire: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psa. 37:4).  (See Psa. 34:4; 1 Pet. 1:8)

Rather than engineering the outcome of your situation, surrender it up to God who promises to honor your cause: Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. (Psa. 37:5, 6 NLT). (See Psa. 22:8; Phil. 4:6,7)

Learn, amidst the surrounding evil the art of quiet rest before God: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked scheme (Psa. 37:7). To be still before God means to hold your peace and wait on God. (See Psa. 27:14; 62:1)