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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for November, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

QUESTIONS I ASKED MYSELF, FROM THIS MORNINGS MEDITATIONFROM MARK 9:33-50:

PassageAfter they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, What were you discussing out on the road? But they didnt answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest (Mk. 9:33, 34 – NLT). (See Psa. 139:1-4; Jn. 2:25; Heb. 4:13; Rev. 2:23)

Question:  Am I secretly in competition with others to be the greatest? Or am I at rest with who I am, and where God has placed me?

Passage: He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else (Mk. 9:35 NLT) (See Jer. 45:5; Mk. 10:42-45; Lk. 14:10, 11; 19:10)

Question: Am I seeking to be first or last? Am I seeking to be served or to serve? 

PassageBut if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck  (Mk. 9:42 NLT). (See Rom. 14:13; 1 Cor. 8:9)

Question: Am I truly blameless? Or am I a stumbling block to others? Do I grasp the gravity of this issue?

Passage:  If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. Its better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. Its better to enter eternal life with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. Its better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell (Mk. 9:43-47). (See Mt. 5:29, 30; 18:8, 9; Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5; Tit. 2:12; 1 Pet. 2:1)

Question:  Am I willing to take whatever measures necessary to rid myself of sin?

Passage: Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other (Mk. 9:50 -NLT) (See. Col. 4:5, 6; Heb. 12:14)

Question:  Am I still a salty, but tempered follower of Christ?

CHALLENGE:  Dont I beg you, only hear the message, but put it into practice; otherwise you are merely deluding yourselves. The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror.  But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of Gods law, the law of liberty, and makes a habit of doing so, is not the man who sees and forgets.  He puts that law into practiced and he wins true happiness (Jms. 1:22-25. Phillips Trans.).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SELF KNOWLEDGE1 (Part 2 of 2)

Well, once again, how about taking a break:  Put your feet up, grab a cup and read the rest of Fenelon.  Last week he reminded us: While you wait for God to deliver you from yourself, you need to take a good look at what you are like. Do not be surprised when you see yourself as you really are -Impatient, Stubborn, Quick-tempered, and Arrogant. You must learn to be patient with yourself without cutting yourself any slack. Humble yourself beneath His hand. Yield to God the first minute you feel yourself resisting. Dwell in silence as much as you can.  Fenelon continues: 

 Avoid choosing your own way,

Jesus: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Lk. 22:42). (See Ps. 40:8; Jn. 6:38)

 And withhold your opinion as much as possible. 

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless (Jms. 1:26). (See Pro. 10:19; 17:27; 18:13; 21:23; Ecc. 5:2; Jms. 1:19, 20)

Rein yourself in when you see yourself getting too eager

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand (Phil. 4:5 KJV). (See Lk. 6:29-35; 21:24; Tit. 3:2; Heb. 13:5)

 What I want for you is the calmness of heart that comes from sitting before God with a heart full of love for Him.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (Jn. 14:27). (See Psa. 43:2; 46:10; Isa. 26:3,4; 43:2; Jn. 14:1; 16:33)

Dont become preoccupied with outward matters. 

The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful (Mk. 4:19). (See Ecc. 5:10-16; Lk. 10:38-42; 12:13-21, 29,30; 14:15-24; 2 Cor. 4:16-18)

Take care of your affairs in due season with a calm, quiet attention.  You will accomplish more by quietly working in the presence of God than by the restless activity that comes from your old nature.

Therefore, 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 (I Cor. 15:58). (See Pro. 14:29; 19:2;21:5; Psa. 55:22)

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 Fenelon, Christian Books Publishing House, MCMXCH, Page 90

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SELF KNOWLEDGE1 (Part 1 of 2)

So, tell me, as you read this Facts, are you up to your eyeballs in alligators, slamming and jamming to make it happen?  If so, take a moment or two and sit back, put your feet up, grab a cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and gear down as you read this  simple, yet profound piece written by Francois de Fenelon, a French spiritual leader during the reign of Louis XIV, (1653-1715).

While you wait for God to deliver you from yourself, you need to take a good look at what you are like.  Do not be surprised when you see yourself as you really are:

   Impatient, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes  (Psa. 37:7). (See Psa. 40:1; Rom. 5:3,4; Jms. 5:7,8; 10, 11; Heb. 6:12)

 

  Stubborn, "But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices (Psa. 81:11,12). (See Deut. 9:6; 21:18; Psa. 78:8)

 

  Quick-tempered, Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Eph. 4:31). (See Pro. 14:29; Ecc. 7:9; Col. 3:8)

 

  And arrogant, The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong (Psa. 5:5). (See Prov. 21:24; Isa. 2:11; 5:15)

Yield to God the first minute you feel yourself resisting [Him]. You must learn to be patient with yourself without cutting yourself any slack.  Humble yourself beneath His hand.

 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness (Rom. 6:13). (See Rom. 6:16; 12:1,2; 2 Cor. 8:5; Phil. 1:20)

Dwell in silence as much as you can.

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psa. 46:10). (See Hab. 2:20; Zech. 2:13; Zeph. 1:7)

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

R. Dwight Hill

 1 Fenelon, Christian Books Publishing House, MCMXCH, Page 90

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

THREE PAINFUL CONSEQUENCES OF WILLFUL REBELLION

Reflecting back over the numerous men and women I have known who got into patterns of sinful behavior, I have noticed three consequences that parallel Cains punishment for murdering his brother, Able (Genesis 4:8-16).  You may remember the story: The two brothers bring offerings from their labor to God.  God receives Ables offering but rejects Cains.  Cains sin was in not offering the required animal sacrifice.  God told Cain that if he chose not to obey His command, ever present sin crouched in wait to overpower him. 1  Out of anger and jealously Cain then murders his brother Abel. 

Consequently, he is cursed by God. The Hebrew word for curse (arar) means to bind with a spell; to hem in with obstacles, to render powerless.  The antonym for a curse conveys the idea of the blessing and praise of God. Because Cain no longer had Gods blessing on him, he became severely diminished in every area of his life.  I have pinpointed three of these areas below:

Cains work no longer yielded production at its previous level: He left farming and became a wanderer on the earth.  You see this diminished production also played out in Gods curse on Adam because of his sin (Genesis 3:1-7). God tells Adam that his tilling of the land will be painful, yielding diminished results (Gen. 3:17). What I have observed in these men and women who walked away from the Lord, is the loss of the favor and trust of their peers. It is obvious that to sustain success in business or a profession, the respect and trust of the community is essential.  Consequently, their status in the community was usually diminished, which more often than not resulted in significant and sustained financial losses.

Cain experienced anguish of soul: Said Cain, My punishment is more than I can bear. We have all observed people who live with regret the remainder of their lives as a result of their sinful actions. Tragically, it is often regret without true repentance (2 Cor. 7:10).  Early in life a close relative of mine set his jaw against God.  The long term consequences? Failed marriages, financial disaster, broken relationships, and chronic health problems all culminated in a life of extreme regret.  Over the years his oft repeated phrase was, If only I had

Cain became a wanderer: The Hebrew word for wanderer (nd) conveys the idea of fleeing, aimless roaming, and moving about purposelessly without a home.  In obdurate rebellion, Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod... Cain renounced God, His precepts, and privileges, and cast off all pretentions of fearing God, along with rejecting Adams family alter How many men and women do I know who through their sin violated the trust and respect of their spouse, children, and the community? They resemble a person running around the outside of their home, peering in through the windows, frantically longing to regain the stature and rich life they once enjoyed as an integral member of their family.

QUESTION: Temptations surround us daily.  Are you prudently, and yes, daily, feeding the well-spring of your soul through intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus by prayerful ingestion and application of His word to strengthen you in the inevitable moment of temptation?  And are you choosing to be an integral part of a healthy body of believers? If not, you may be a moral casualty in the making.

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 John MacArthur Study Bible, pg. 22; Thomas Nelson 1995.