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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for April, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

THE CORROSIVE EFFECTS OF WEALTH (Part 3 of 4)

Wealth nurtures in us an intolerance of others who have not achieved at the same level.

Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked itTo the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some And we urge you, brothershelp the weak, be patient with everyoneTake a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don't see many of the brightest and the best among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families.  Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses chose these nobodies to expose the hollow pretensions of the somebodies? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God (1Cor.12:22-24; 9:22; 1 Thes. 5:14; I Cor. 1:26-29 Msg.).  (See Rom. 15:1; I Cor. 4:7)

PrayerFather, deliver me from an intolerant spirit toward others. Help me to remember that whatever talents I have, were endowed by you. Grant me a heart of compassion toward those less privileged than myself.

The heady experience of financial success through business adventures is like being on steroids. That is, there is an addiction of needing to continually hit another home run to experience the rush of success one more time. Thus, I can easily derive my fulfillment not from God but from home runs.

 

I thought in my heart, Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is goodI wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects:  I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.  I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.  I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.  I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house.  I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.  I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.  I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well–the delights of the heart of man.  I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me.  In all this my wisdom stayed with me.  I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly.  What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?…So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me.  All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun (Ecc. 2:1a, 3b -11,17, 18a) . (See 2 Chro. 32:27-31)

 

PrayerLord, teach me to derive my true significance not in earthly achievements, but from my relationship with you, and you alone,

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THE CORROSIVE EFFECTS OF WEALTH (Part 2 of 4)

Wealth affords us the means and opportunity of indulging our hedonistic inclinations.

Wealthy King Solomon, in looking back over his life disclosed, I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.  His conclusion? When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.  Thus, he warned young men:  Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. (Ecc. 2:10a; 2:11; 11:9)  (See Gen. 3:6; 6:2; Ecc. 2; Lk. 12:13-21; I Jn. 2:15, 16)

 Prayer: Lord, help me to take prudent measures in preparation in the inevitable day of my great temptation.  (See Pro. 22:6; 6:20-24)

Wealth fosters in us a false sense of pride and self-sufficiency.

 

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day . Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.   He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.  You may say to yourself, My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.   But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is todayGive me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?'  Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.  (Deu. 8:10-18; Pro. 30:8b, 9)  (See Deut. 6:10-12; Job 31:24, 25; Psa. 52:7; 73:1-12; I Cor. 4:7)

 

PrayerLord, I implore you to remove my wealth from me the moment the pride of self-sufficiency rears its ugly head.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

THE CORROSIVE EFFECTS OF WEALTH (Part 1 of 4)

In the Scriptures we observe godly men of wealth such as Abraham, Job, and Joseph of Arimathea who buried Jesus body.  The Scriptures remind us that the blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it (Pro. 10:22).  From I Timothy 6 we learn that it is the love of money that leads to all kinds of evil, but if a person is wealthy he is enjoined to use his resources for the good of his fellow man.  Jesus warned that it is difficult, but not impossible for a rich person to enter heaven (Matt. 19:24). The Scriptures present us with the disturbing story of the young man who walked away from following Christ because of his great wealth (Mk. 10:17-31).  My friend Walter Henrichsen tartly states that money is a seductive mistress. How true. Thus we are warned against the deceitfulness of riches, and are instructed that if your wealth increases, dont make it the center of your life (Mk. 4:19; Psa. 62:10 – NLT).

In a recent bible study with well-healed business and professional men, I asked the question, What can be the corrosive effects of wealth on us? Heres what the men said:

Wealth affords us the opportunity to continually buy new experiences, thereby breeding a chronic discontent for the normal routines of life.

"Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessionsDeath and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of manBut godliness with contentment is great gainIf we have food and clothing, we will be content with thatI have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.   I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Pro. 27:20; Lk. 12:15b; I Tim. 6:6, 8; Phil. 4:11-13).

PrayerGod, teach me freedom in the fact that less is often more in terms of the richness of life.  Deliver me from the bondage of an ever expanding appetite for more.

 Wealth furnishes us the opportunity to serve peoples needs through finances rather than through personal and sacrificial involvement.  With wealth, we can easily become resource rich and commitment poor.

We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possibleFor we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sakeThe greatest among you will be your servant.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exaltedYou, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love 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 Thes. 2:8; 2 Cor. 8:5b; I Cor. 9:19; 2 Cor. 4:5; Matt. 23:11, 12; Gal. 5:13; 1 Jn. 3:16-18).

PrayerLord, may my first priority in giving be of myself, and then my resources.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

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

In the last two Facts we discussed several 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, (2) Only by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit can we do Gods work, (3) Peter and John possessed a holy boldness when challenged by their opponents, (4) Peter knew the word of God and was able to use it skillfully and effectively (5) Peter boldly proclaimed that Jesus was the only way to salvation, and (6) Peter and John reflected Jesus in their lives.  To continue:

7. God uses ordinary people to accomplish His work: The authorities comprehended the fact that Peter and John were without formal education and that they were not professional men but laymen (Act. 4:13b Wuest Trans.). (See Pro. 3:7; 1 Cor. 1:26-29; 8:1)

Question:  Do you humbly have a sane estimate of yourself before God? (See Rom. 12:3)

8. We must decide whether we are going to serve God or please man: 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" (Act. 4:18b-20).  (See Josh. 24:15; 1 Kin. 18:21; Jn. 12:43; Gal.1:10; Jms.1:8)

Question:  When the pressure is on, whom are you really pleasing?  God or man?

9. Peter and John spoke out of their own life experiences, as opposed to speaking from theory or intellectualize truthWe cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20b). (See 1 Jn. 1:1-3)

Question:  Does your message have the authentic ring of shoe leather Christianity lived out in the trenches of daily life?  Or do you intellectualize the truth and speak from theory?

10. Peter and John were part of a larger supportive community:  On their release (from prison), Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.  When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God  (Act. 4:23, 24a). (See Col. 3:16; Heb. 10:25)

Question:  Are you a loner, or healthily part of a larger Christian community?

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

R. Dwight Hill