BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

REFLECTING GOD IN THE MARKET PLACE: HIS MERCY (Part 9 of 10)

Theres not a lot of mercy in the marketplace. Produce or youre out. Mess up a couple of times and youre walking. A stock broker friend of mime once told me that in his field, if you stumbled on a rung on your way up the ladder of success there would be a pile of guys instantly ready to climb over your back en-route to the top. Christs Twelve mirrored the marketplaces lack of mercy when they got irked at the ever needy, hungry crowds by promptly advising Jesus to send them off to solve their own food problem. Enough was enough. (Mt. 14:13-21) Not Jesus. Out of His heart of mercy He fed them, and then sent them on their way. (Lk. 18:9-14)

Gods mercy has to do with His goodness and love. If the grace of God contemplates man as guilty before God, and therefore in need of forgiveness, the mercy of God contemplates him as one who is bearing the consequences of sin of one who is in a pitiable position, who therefore needs Divine helpMercy is thegoodness or love of God shown to those who are in misery or distress (Louis Berkhof). Gods mercy applied means we dont get what we deserve.

Gods mercy is un-bounding toward those who sincerely fear Him and seek to obey Him: All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him[God keeps] covenant and mercy for them that love Him and observe His commandments (Psa. 25:10; 103:13; Neh. 1:5 KJV).

God also extends His mercy to those who turn their back on their previous life of sin, He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercyThe Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished (Num. 14:18; Prov. 28:13). (See Gal. 6:7, 8)

Gods mercy endures forever, is great, abounding, and infinitely rich. (See Psa. 136:1; I Kin. 3:6; I Pet. 1:3; Psa. 86:5; Eph. 2:4)

So, what is the application?  

We are to extend to others the same mercy He has granted us: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Lk. 6:36). And what does that look like?  We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him upAccept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable mattersLove your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back (Rom. 15:1,2; 14:1; Lk. 6:35, 37). (See Matt. 18:21-35)

So how about slowing down a bit today and taking a look around you. My guess is that there is someone in your orbit who isnt doing so well. Take a moment and reach out, as would Jesus. Extend them a touch of mercy; a touch of compassion, rather than harboring an attitude of judgment or cold indifference. Imagine, you might just save a life. Jesus reminds us, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me (Matt. 25:40).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

REFLECTING GOD IN THE MARKET PLACE: HIS POWER (Part 8 of 10)

Power is the name of the game in the winner take all ethos of modern day capitalism. We are talking here about exercising power over others; the power of influence; the power to bring about whatever results we so desire. It is, after all, the powerful who rule, while the weak are shunted into the shadows of society. In our power hungry world, it is comforting to know that we serve an all-powerful God who is profoundly concerned about our well-being.

Gods power refers to His ability and strength whereby He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases, whatsoever His infinite wisdom may direct, and whatsoever the infinite purity of His will may resolve (S. Charnock) Gods power is like Himself:  Self-existent; self-sustaining, eternal, and incomprehensible; it can neither be checked or restrained by His creation.  

God in His omnipotent power can do without effort, and by volition whatever He wills. (Charles Hodge) For example, in the Genesis 1 account of creation God simply said, Let there be light, and there was light (Gen. 1:3). And so it was in the ensuing acts of creation. (See Gen. 1:6, 9, 14, 20, 24, 26)  The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you (Jer. 32:17). (See Neh. 9:6; Ps. 102:25; Isa. 42:5)  Daniel exclaimed, [God] does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have you done? (Dan. 4:35) (See Job 9:4; 23:13; Psa. 33:9-11; 115:3; Isa.14:24-27; See Eph. 1:11)

Gods power exhibited through Christ:  [Christ sustains] all things by His powerful wordand in Him all things hold together (Heb. 1:3; Col. 3:17). While on earth at His volition, the winds ceased, and there was a great calm. By an act of the will He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind and raised the dead. (Arthur Pink)

APPLICATION:  

Because we are often surrounded by powerfully evil forces that can easily dwarf and intimidate us, it is imperative that we grasp the fact that this all-powerful God resides in us and works through us in overcoming evil: "… In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the worldYouhave overcome [false spirits], because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (Jn. 16:33; I Jn. 4:4).

And how do we access His power that is already resident in our lives? By humbling ourselves and recognizing our desperate weakness and need for Him. Certainly we can learn from Pauls experience, [God] said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9, 10).  (See Phil. 4:13)

So, today, as you go about your business, will you choose to recognize your abject helplessness before God? Then in desperation will you invite His omnipotent presence to fill and empower you to live joyfully and victoriously in this, our sin-drenched, power-mongering world?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

REFLECTING GOD IN THE MARKET PLACE: HIS GOODNESS (Part 7 of 10)

My friend, if you are operating in the marketplace, the idea of goodness as a pervasive value probably comes off as a bit nave. Even antiquated. Believe it, genuine, God-breathed goodness is in short supply in the rough and tumble world of commerce where most everyone is in mad pursuit of the Almighty Dollar.

By way of contrast, God is the essence of goodness and calls us to live out that goodness in our sin- soaked world. So what do we mean when we speak of the goodness of God?

Gods goodness is that perfectionwhich prompts Him to deal bountifully and kindly with all His creatures. (Berkhof) The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made (Psa. 145:9). In His goodness, He satisfies the desires of every living thing (Psa. 145:16).

Everything that emanates from God testifies of His goodness: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Gen. 1:31).

The most powerful demonstration of Gods goodness was in sending us His Son to give us salvation:  God sent his Sonto redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Gal. 4:4, 5). (See Rom. 5:8; Tit. 2:11)

Gods goodness is reflected in His grace. By grace we mean His love or favor that He bestows on those who have no merit in themselves and from whom no compensation is demanded:  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ JesusFor you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich (Eph. 1:6,7; 2 Cor. 8:9).  (See Eph. 2:7-9; I Jn. 4:6, 9, 10; 3:16) Imagine!  God  in His goodness is kind to the ungrateful and wicked[sending] rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Lk. 6:35b; Matt. 5:45b).  

So, whats the take away for us? How could we not be arrested by Gods incomprehensible goodness that He expressed on our behalf?  Now He implores us to respond similarly toward the unlovely and the ungodly: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you (Lk. 6:27-31).  (See Lk. 7:21; Act. 10:38; Gal. 4:22)

PRAYER:  Dear Lord, having experienced your magnificent goodness in my life, undeserving as I am, I implore you to evoke in me an inner change that allows me to respond to others in genuine goodness, as your life is lived out through me. Amen.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

REFLECTING GOD IN THE MARKET PLACE: HIS FAITHFULNESS (Part 6 of 10)

Unfaithfulness seems to be the order of the day. In the business, professional, and political arena, a persons word is no longer their bond. Ogling and bedding down with other peoples spouses is common practice. Leaders of every stripe exploit public trust, audaciously violating accepted practices of integrity and decency.

Not so with our God:  God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?…Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands (Num. 23:19; Deut 7:9). (See Psa. 89:8; Lam. 3:22, 23; Isa. 11:5)

God is always on time. He delivers on His promises. He never forgets. He never falters. Capricious He is not. From Genesis 1 to the present He has run His creation with clockwork propriety. Those who have chosen to trust His word are never disappointed:  Not one of all the Lord's good promises to the house of Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled…He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is HeFor the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations (Jos. 21:45; Deu. 32:4; Psa. 100:5). (See Psa. 32:4; 36:5; 89:14; 117:2; 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 10:23; Jms.. 1:17)

Ruth and I can speak of His faithfulness from personal experience over more than five decades of knowing and choosing to trust Him. As the hymn states, There is no disappointment in Jesus, Hes all that He promised to be; His love and His care comfort me everywhere; He is no disappointment to me. His promise in Hebrews 13:5 has repeatedly proven true to us: I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will] not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down (relax my hold on you)! Assuredly not! (Amplified). (See Gen. 28:15; Deut. 31:6; Psa. 37:25, 28; Isa. 41:10, 17)

God is faithful in preserving His people, particularly as it relates to (1) their relationship with Him: God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful (I Cor. 1:9), and (2) safeguarding them from succumbing to temptation:  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it (I Cor. 10:13). (See 2 Tim.1:9; 2 Cor. 1:10)

God is faithful in disciplining His people: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Heb. 12:5, 6) (See Psa. 119:75; Pro. 3:11, 12; Job 5:17, 18; Psa. 94:12; 1 Cor. 11:32; Rev. 3:19)

God is faithful in perfecting His people through lifes trials until He takes them to glory: "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of GodHe who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Act. 14:22b; Phil. 1:6b). (See Psa. 84:5-7; 2 Tim. 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:10)

So, my friend, choose to rest in Gods faithfulness, because He is there for you, whatever your challenge.