BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for September, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

REFLECTING GOD IN THE MARKET PLACE: HIS HOLINESS (Part 5 of 10)

Daily you negotiate your way through your day in the marketplace of opportunism, the seduction of wealth, and the Micavillian  mind-set of Darwinian ethics. To even think of Gods holiness in such a society seems so totally other, so disconnected to the real world. Yet discounting Gods holiness is not an option for the believer: Without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14b)

How then are we to think about God, the Holy One?

Gods holiness addresses His moral excellence, His ethical perfection, and His absolute purity that is unsullied by sin: Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongGod is light; in him there is no darkness at all (Hab. 1:13a; I John 1:5b). (See Rev 15:4)

Gods holiness is celebrated before the throne of heaven: And they were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory  Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you– majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? (Isa.6:3; Ex. 15:11)

Gods holiness invites our worshipful participation:  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holinessTremble before him, all the earthExalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy (Psa. 29:2; 96:9; 99:9).  (See Psa. 22:3; 99:5; 103:1)

Gods holiness if we grasp even a shadow it – awakens in us a sense of absolute nothingness and abasement: Woe to me! I cried. I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. (Isa. 6:5) (See Ex. 3:5)

God in His holiness hates sin: The Lord detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidenceThe Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him (Pro. 3:32; 15:26). (See Psa. 5:5; Isa. 64:6) Yet, those who have fled to Him are Accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:4)

Application: We are called to emulate His holiness in how we conduct our livesyes, even in the marketplace: Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, I am holy; you be holy" (I Pet. 1:14-16 Msg.).

Prayer: Lord, by your grace, and with your enabling, I will reflect your holiness in how I conduct my life in the unholy environment of the marketplace. Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

REFLECTING GOD IN THE MARKET PLACE: HIS LOVE (Part 4 of 10) 1

How do you love the unlovable? In your world of work you daily encounter the politics of self-assertion, manipulation and exploitation. How are you to love people endorsing those values? To help us answer that question, lets take careful look at the love of God and how it must influence our attitudes and actions. When we speak of Gods love, we are not saying that God loves; rather that he is the essence of love. It is his very nature: God is love. (I Jn. 4:8) The common perception of Gods love is that of an amicable weakness; a sort of good natured, sentimental deity who puts up with our indulgences. Not so:

Gods love is uninfluenced. That is, his love is spontaneous, free and uncaused. It is not activated by outside stimulus. It just is. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you (Deu.. 7:7, 8). Gods love is not motivated by anything lovely in us. That is, he is uninfluenced by our actions. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for usNeither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 5:8; 8:38b, 39) (See Eph. 2:4-7)

Gods love is eternal. Because God is eternal (Neh. 9:5) and God is love, his love for us has existed from all eternity. "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness (Jer. 31:3b). Imagine, God loved us before he called heaven and earth into existence. For endless ages He loved us before we had any being. He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Eph. 1:4, 5).

Gods love is infinite. Everything about God is unbounded, as he fills the heaven and the earth. He knows everything past, present and future. Similarly, his love is without limit and beyond our comprehension. I pray that you may have powerto grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him (Eph. 3:17-19 Selected; Psa. 103:11).

Gods love is unchallengeable. A powerful illustration of the fact that Gods love for us is totally unaffected by his foreknowledge of our failings is found in Jesus dealings with the twelve disciples at the last supper in spite of his knowledge their imminent denial of him: Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end He then proceeded to wash their feet. (Jn. 13:1 – NKJV ) (Read Jn. 13:1-17)

Here is the point: You live and work in a world that is a mixture of love and hate, egalitarianism and egotism. Thus you have every human reason to withdraw, become cynical, and even join the masses in their self-serving actions, but not if you profess to be a serious follower of the Lord Jesus. The litmus test of your authenticity as a professed follower of Christ is whether or not you mirror the love of God toward those around you, as did Jesus:Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one anotherWe love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother (I Jn. 4:7-11, 19-21).

1 Many key ideas of todays Facts have been drawn from The Attributes of God, by Arthur A. Pink, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, pages 90-95;

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

REFLECTING GOD IN THE MARKET PLACE: HIS SOVEREIGNTY (Part 3 of 10)

In our wacko world of helter skelter, (that includes the market place) we, the followers of the Lord Jesus must be asking the question from time to time, Where is God? Is He really in control? If so, why do horrible things happen to His people? Why are the wicked flourishing and His children languishing? In truth, many things are happening around us that simply make no sense and seem so unjust. So, where is God? (See Ps. 73)

How are we to understand, for example, the Scriptural account of the decapitation of John the Baptist at the whim of an inebriated king and a sensual teen ager? (Mk. 6:14-29). How is it that Job suffered unimaginably as the star player in a drama played out between God and Satan without a modicum of explanation to Job as to why? The Scriptures do remind us that,  the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law (Deut. 29:29) St. Paul addresses lifes mysteries by stating the fact that this side of eternity we don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (I Cor. 13:12  – Msg.)

We do know from the word of God, and from personal experience that God is good, and that he has our best interests at heart (Gen. 1:31; Psa. 4:5; 52:1; 139:14; 145:9, 15,16; Jer. 29:11).

So, what does the term God is Sovereign mean? It means that God is exercising His supremacy as the Most High Lord of heaven and earth. He is subject to no one, and is influenced by none. He is absolutely independent. That is, God does as He pleases and none can hinder Him: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isa. 46:10b) (See Gen. 18:14; Jer. 32:27; Matt. 3:9; 26:53) As the Sovereign of the universe He is directing all things in conformity with the purpose of his will (Eph. 1:11b).

Certainly, we are cautioned in Scripture to not question His sovereignty: Woe to him who strives with his Maker!a worthless piece of broken pottery among other pieces equally worthless [and yet presuming to strive with his Maker]! Shall the clay say to him who fashions it, what do you think you are making? (Isa. 45:9 Amp.). (See Psa. 135:6; 115:3; Dan. 4:35) In our moments of confusion or grief, Job stands out as our quintessential example as to how we are to respond to the sovereignty of God, confusing as it may appear: Job, upon hearing of his monumental loses, 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. Said heShall we accept good from God, and not trouble? In all this, Job did not sin in what he said (Job 1:20-23; 2:10). (See Gen. 50:20)

Charles Spurgeon, that great British preacher of the 1800s stated, There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of Gods Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most sever trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their affliction, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. (See Pro. 21:1; Rom. 9:15-18)

Prayer: Lord, there is much  in  life  that  is  beyond  my  scope of  understanding. As  an act of faith I choose to surrender to and trust in you, my Sovereign God. Amen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

REFLECTING ON GOD IN THE MARKET PLACE: HIS KNOWLEDGE (OMNISCIENCE) (Part 2 of 10)

As you navigate the uncharted waters of the marketplace in these uncertain times, you can take comfort in the fact that your heavenly Father has known from all eternity exactly what has taken place in the past and what will transpire in the future. God is never caught off guard; never surprised. His knowledge is all encompassing. As His children we are assured that He will see us through to eternity:

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do (Isa. 46:9-11). (See Psa. 33:11; 135:6; Isa. 44:78; 45:21; Eph. 1:9-11)

We take comfort in the fact that God knows everything about us:  "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve" (Jer. 17:10). (See Ps. 139:1-4)  As His child, our natural response echoes that of the psalmist:  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain (Psa. 139:6).

Like Job, we find solace in realizing that God is cognizant of the details, and yes, the struggles of our lives: He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold (Job. 23:10b).

In your professional life, doubtless there have and will be times of confusion; times of deep inner struggles. How comforting to know that God is already aware of the cry of your heart even before you seek Him out:  Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear (Isa. 65:24).

In your periods of spiritual uncertainty you can pray with great assurance for clarity: 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).

I would imagine that there have been seasons of doubt about Gods plan for your life. It is in these troubling times that we can rest in His assurance: I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope  (Jer. 29:11).

Finally, it is imperative that we also understand that amidst the intense seductions of the marketplace, nothing escapes His notice or is hidden from His view. He will call us to account:  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Heb. 4:13).  (See Num. 32:23; Isa. 29:15; 40:27, 28)

Prayer:  Lord, as I seek to reflect you in the marketplace, grant me the courage to put my hand in yours, trusting in your sovereign goodness and omniscience. Whatever the temptations and struggles I may face in my world of work, you are walking with me, giving me the peace, the wisdom, and the ability to trust you as my all knowing, loving heavenly Father.  Amen.