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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for March, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

THE DYNAMICS OF COURAGEOUSLY SPREADING THE GOSPEL WHILE UNDER FIRE (Part 2 of 3)

In last weeks Facts we discussed two principles: (1) Germane to effectively proclaiming the gospel is a willingness to openly speak of Jesus, and present the fact of the resurrection, even in a hostile environment, and (2)Only by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit can we do Gods work, especially in adverse circumstances.  To continue:

3. Peter and John possessed a holy boldness when challenged by their opponents:  Then [the authorities] called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John replied, Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.  For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:18b-20). (See Act. 4:10, 13; Pro. 25:19)

Question:  Are you dependent on the Holy Spirit for the courage to proclaim the truth?

4. Peter knew the word of God and was able to skillfully and effectively use it:  …Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone (Act. 4:11 NLT).  (See 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16, 17)

Question:  Are you taking deliberate measures to master the word of God in order to effectively minister the Scriptures to others?

5. Peter boldly proclaimed that Jesus was the only way to salvationThere is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Act. 4:12). (See Jn. 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5)

Question:  Given our pluralistic and postmodern world where all roads supposedly lead to God, and where there supposedly are no absolutes, are you willing to courageously proclaim Jesus as the only way?

6. Peter and John reflected Jesus in their lives:  When the authorities realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus (Act. 4:13). (See 2 Cor. 2:15, 16)

Question:  When people look at you, do they naturally conclude that you have been with Jesus?

We will conclude our discussion in next weeks Facts.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

TEN DYNAMICS OF COURAGEOUSLY SPREADING THE GOSPEL WHILE UNDER FIRE (Part 1 of 3)

Living as we do in an increasingly pluralistic world that is often hostile to the message of Christ, the experience of Peter and John in Acts 4 is tremendously relevant to us.

Shortly after Christs ascension, Peter and John entered the temple in Jerusalem to pray, only to be accosted for money by a crippled beggar.  Peter responded with, Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk" (Act. 3:6). The man is healed, the crowd is amazed, and 5,000 men, plus women and children become believers.  Peter and John are brought before the authorities who demand to know by what power they had performed the miracle.  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them:  Rulers and elders of the people!  If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know thisIt is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed." (Act. 4:8-11 Selected).  A remarkable exchange transpires between the two disciples and the angry and frustrated authorities.

A number of powerful principles emerge from the narrative that is highly instructive for us who sincerely desire to get the gospel out to our lost world:

1.  Germane to effectively proclaiming the gospel is a willingness to openly speak of Jesus, and present the fact of the resurrection, even in a hostile environment:  The authorities were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. Behind closed doors they decided, Let's silence [Peter and John] with threats so they won't dare to use Jesus' name ever again with anyone" (Act. 4:2, 17).  (See Act. 4:18, 33)

Question:  Are you unabashedly proclaiming the name of Jesus, and the fact of the resurrection, even in intimidating settings – when it is appropriate to do so?

 

2.  Only by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit can we do Gods work:  The authorities had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them:  By what power or what name did you do this?  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them  (Act. 4:7, 8a). (See Act. 4:31)

Question:  Are you depending on the strength and leading of the Spirit to do His work through you? Or are you just gutting it out on your own?

We will continue our discussion in next weeks Facts.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY BEFORE GOD IN HELPING THE LESS FORTUNATE OF THE WORLD? (Part 2 of 2)

In last weeks Facts we made two points:  (1) Both the Father and the Son share a heart for the downtrodden, (2) The Scriptures define our responsibility among the poor and needy

Three: God rewards those who help the needy

He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many cursesHe who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done. (Pro. 28:27; 19:17). (See Pro. 29:14; Matt. 25:31-40)

JesusThen the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the worldI was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me inI tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me (Matt. 25:34, 35, 40).

Four: The Father and Son are seeking for laborers to serve among the needy and the lost:

GodI looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land.  I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldnt have to destroy the land, but I found no one (Ezek. 22:30).

JesusPray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields (Matt. 9:38b).

Five: God issues stern warnings and inducements for those who ignore or exploit the less fortunate:

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean.  Take your evil deeds out of my sight!  Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'  "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'   "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'  "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Isa. 1:15-17; Matt. 25:41-46) (See Deu. 15:7; Isa. 1:14-17; 56:1; Jer. 22:1-17; Amo. 5:12-14; Jms. 5:1-5)

Six: Jobs  attention to the needy is worthy of our considerationJob 29:7-17; 31:13-40

PRAYER: Father, we ask you to forgive us where we have failed you in our sins of omission among the needy of this world.  Give us your heart of compassion, and help us emulate your example of engagement. Grant us your wisdom to know what attitudes and actions would most please and glorify you.  Amen.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY BEFORE GOD IN HELPING THE LESS FORTUNATE OF THE WORLD? (Part 1 of 2)

If you are anything like me, you are vexed, frustrated, and probably a bit overwhelmed when it comes to the struggling masses of this worlds poor and exploited.  Just what do the Scriptures have to say to us responsibility-wise on this challenging subject?

One: Both the Father and the Son share a heart of compassion for the downtrodden:

God is a father to the fatherless, [and] a defender of widows[He] sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singingHe raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people.  He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children  (Psa. 68:5, 8, 9; 113:7-9 Selected).  (See Psa. 9:9; 68:4-6; Pro. 31:8, 9)

Jesus proclaimed, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed (Lk. 4:18, 19a)  Consequently, The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor (Lk. 7:22b).  (See Isa. 61:1-9; Matt. 9:36; Lk. 16:19-31)

Two: The Scriptures clearly define our responsibility toward the poor and needy:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth (I Jn. 3:16-18).

JesusWhen you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (Lk. 14:12-14).

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to actHe who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors GodDo not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in courtThe righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern (Pro. 3:27; 14:31; 22:22; 29:7).  (See Lk. 10:25-37)

We will conclude our study in next weeks Facts.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill