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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for August, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

THREE TESTS OF AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY: Obedience, Intimacy, Fruit (Part 2 of 4)

Two: Intimacy

Knowing Christ is our primary calling:  God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithfulNow this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  The Greek word for know is ginosko which implies not merely intellectual knowledge of God, but a deep love relationship with Him.  It has the idea of progressively recognizing and perceiving who God is in Christ. Jesus Christ put it in these terms:  I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity (Jn.17:23a).  He conveyed a similar idea using the Shepherd/sheep metaphor: His sheep know Him, listen to His voice, and follow Him.  He in turn lays down His life for them. (Jn. 10:14, 15, 27)

QUESTION: Do your present priorities reflect the fact that you truly believe that intimacy with Christ is number one?

Knowing Christ involves an intense pursuit of Him: The prophet Hosea cried out, Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him (Hos. 6:3a).  That phrase, press on means to run and to chase after; to hunt and pursue with intensity.  God then promises, He will respond to us surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring (Hos. 6:3b). Similarly, Paul states, I am pursuing onward if I may lay hold of that for which I have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12a Wuest). The imagery here is of a Greek runner streaking down the race course, keeping his eye on the chase. He is pressing on toward a fixed goal. Paul continues, [I] am stretching forward to the things that are in front; bearing down upon the goal (Phil 3:12- Wuest).  Talk about intensity to know Christ!  Paul had previously stated, Every advantage I had gained I considered loss for Christs sake.  Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Phil. 3:7, 8a Phil. Trans.).

QUESTION: Are you engaged in an intense pursuit of knowing Christ, or is it a rather casual affair?

Knowing Christ is tied to uncompromising obedience to the word of God:  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his loveIf you love me, you will obey what I commandWhoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love Him and show myself to HimBut if anyone obeys His word, God's love is truly made complete in Him. This is how we know we are in HimThose who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us (Jn. 15:10; 14:15, 21; I Jn. 2:5; 3:24).

QUESTION:  In the integrity of your heart are you sincerely applying Gods word to your life, or are you just dithering around?

Knowing Christ is the product of the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit in revealing  His love for us: PaulI pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to 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  (Eph. 3:16-19). (See Eph. 3:12-21)

QUESTION:  Are you inviting the Holy Spirit to increasingly reveal Jesus to you at a deeper level?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

THREE TESTS OF AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY: Obedience, Intimacy, Fruit (Part 1 of 4)

One: Obedience:

Obedience to Gods word is the litmus test of authentic discipleship : "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heavenWhy do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?…Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves meThe man who says, I know him but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (Matt. 7:21; Lk. 6:46; Jn. 14:21a; I Jn. 2:4). (See Lk. 11:28; Rom. 2:13)

Obedience to Gods word, approached in a cavalier manner can cost us eternity:  In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the foolish ones procrastinated in preparing their lamps with oil in anticipation of the bridegrooms arrival. Consequently, they were shut out of the wedding ceremony.  Christs admonition: Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hourMake every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Matt. 25:13; Lk. 13:24)  (See Matt. 24:37-39)  In James 1:22-25 you have the illustration of the self-deceived man who looks into the mirror, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like, compared to the man who looks intently into the law, continues to do so, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it [is] blessed in what he does (Jms. 1:22-25).

Obedience to Gods word opens the door for us to deeply experience His love for us:  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to himIf anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in himI will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my lawsIf you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love  (Jn. 14:21, 23; I Jn. 2:5; Ezek. 36:25-27; Jn. 15:10). (See Jer. 31:33, 34)

 

QUESTION:  How do you think God views your heart to obey Him?  As casual, or intensive? If your relationship with God seems a bit distant, could it have something to do with your level of obedience?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

GREAT BUSINESS LEADERS AND THEIR BIBLICAL PARALLELS

Jim Collins in his monumental book, Good To Great analyzed why some companies become great, while others table out at the level of good. In the book Collins describes several characteristics of the CEOs who took their companies to the highest level of excellence.  He refers to these rare individuals as Level 5 Leaders. May I suggest that if God has placed you in a position of spiritual leadership, there are biblical applications paralleling Collins findings:

Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will.  They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselvesLevel 5 leaders display a compelling modesty, are self-effacing and understated 1

Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earthBlessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earthClothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom (Num. 12:3; Matt. 5:5; Col. 3:12b; Jms. 3:13). (See Lk. 18:9-14; Matt. 11:29; Rom. 12:16; Phil. 2:5-8; Jms. 4:13-16)

Level 5 leaders are fanatically driven and infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results. They are resolved to do whatever it takes to make the company great, no matter how big or hard the decisions. 1

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyedTherefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (2 Cor. 4:8,9; 1 Cor. 15:58). (See Act. 20:31; I Cor. 9:16; Act. 14:19-22)

 Level 5 leaders display a workman like diligence more plow horse that show horse. 1

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the LordDo your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (Rom. 12:11; 2 Tim. 2:15). (See Pro. 10:4; 12:27; 27:23; 1 Tim. 4:15; Heb. 4:11)

Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves. 1

 Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other peoples point of view (Phil. 2:3, 4 Phillips  Trans.).

QUESTION:  Have you determined to become a person of highest excellence for the glory of God, and for the advancement of His Kingdom?  Paul certainly had: I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed meto reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (Phil. 3:12a, 14b NLT).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

PROFILE OF A FINISHER – Principles taken from Psalm 84 (Part 3 of 3)

In the previous two Facts we have discussed Desperation for God, A heart filled with praise, and Singleness of heart and mind as qualities of a finisher.

  Overcomer: As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs (vs. 6a)

The Valley of Baca is a place of mourning, weeping, and tears.  A place of dry and barren conditions; a place of much difficulty and privation. But this pilgrim has determined that nothing can deter him from winning over his circumstances. He makes lemonade out of lemons. Since he showed up in this parched place of tears he has made it a place of springs. He is living proof that in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Rom. 8:37).  (See Job 23:8-10; Psa. 66:10-12; Isa. 43:7; 41:18; Act. 14:22; Rom. 5:3-5; 2 Cor. 4:16-18)

In 1967 Joni Erickson (Tada) was paralyzed in a diving accident, thereby becoming a quadriplegic. Talk about overcoming!  Today, scores of people around the world continue to be ministered to by Joni through her writing, broadcasting, paintings (with a brush in her teeth),  singing, and family retreats.  Her organization collects used wheelchairs and has prisoners refurbish them. The wheel chairs are then donated to the disabled in developing countries.  Talk about making the Valley of Baca a place of springs!

Question:  Sohave you chosen by Gods enabling – to be an over comer?  Or have you chosen to be a victim of circumstances?

  Finisher:  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.  (vs. 7)

Finishers experience the promise of Deuteronomy 33:25: Your strength will equal your days. That is, they continually acquire fresh strength for the journey without surrendering to weariness or fatigue until they behold the countenance of God in Zion. (See 2 Chron. 16:9; Isa. 40:29; 41:10; 2Cor. 12:9; Phil. 4:13; Col. 1:11)

But finishers are in the minority:

Paul stayed the course: Chained to a prison wall, facing execution, he states to Timothy,  The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Tim 4:6b, 7).  (See Act. 20:24; I Cor. 9:24-27; Phil. 3:14; Heb. 12:1, 2)

Demas buckled:  Paul: Demas has deserted me for love of this present world (2 Tim. 4:10a). (See (Psa.. 78:9; Phil. 3:18, 19; Lk. 9:62)

Question:  Given the present condition of your secret inner life, what is the probability that you will finish the pilgrimage well?  If your answer is in question, what practical changes do you need to make today?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

PROFILE OF A FINISHER – Principles taken from Psalm 84 (Part 2 of 3)

In last weeks Facts we discussed Desperation for God as a quality of a finisher.

  A heart filled with praiseBlessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you (Vs. 4).

 

The first generation of Israelites grumbled against God and Moses in the desert, costing them entrance to the Promised Land.  (See Ex. 16:2-9; 17:23; Num. 14:27-30)  When you possess a thankful and worshipful spirit before God, you cant be grousing. Observe  Philippians 2:14, 15 that your effectiveness in influencing the lost among you for Christ is predicated on whether you are a person of praise, or a grumbler.

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves],That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world,

Question: Are you a person full of praise, or are you a grumbler?

  Singleness of heart and mind: Blessed are those who have their hearts set on pilgrimage(vs. 5a, c)

 These are the folks who have one thing on their mind.  Getting to heaven. Finishing the pilgrimage to Zion. Whatever it takes. In their mind there are no other options. While writing this Facts, the NBA playoffs were on. In the fourth game, a T. V. camera panned in on Kobe Bryants (Los Angeles Lakers) clinched teeth and fist, signaling his and his teammates intention to win the series over the Boston Celtics.  Said he, We will do whatever it takes to win.  And win they did. Singleness of heart and mind personified.

 James reminds us that the man who trusts God but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, and the man of divided loyalty will reveal instability a t every turn Jms.. 1:6-8b Phil. Trans.  (See Isa. 50:7; Lk. 9:51, 62; Philip:3:12-14)

 Question:  Sois your heart singularly bent on finishing the pilgrimage wellwhatever it takes?

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

R. Dwight Hill