BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

PRAYER: LETS KEEP IT SIMPLE (Part 1 of 2)

God simplifies

Man complicates

Satan confuses

Take for example the issue of prayer. One of Jesus disciples asked for His help on how to pray.  Heres the profound, but infinitely simple pattern He gave:  When you pray say, Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon.  Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And dont let us yield to temptation. (Lk. 11:2-4 NLT)

In 40 words Jesus gave them the essence of prayer that can be stated in about 15 seconds.  Shortly after His discourse on prayer, He indicted the religious leaders for laying unnecessary religious burdens on their people: You crush people with impossible religious demands (Lk. 11:46b)  With that in mind, here is the bottom line on Jesus pattern for prayer:

Pray upward:

Gods name

Father. The term Father reflects the tender and respectful love which a child feels toward his father. It also expresses our confidence in His love for us, such as fathers have for their children.

May your name be kept holy.  We are to ask God to purify and consecrate every aspect of our lives.  Thus, our heart embraces Peters admonition, You must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy (I Pet. 1:15).

Gods kingdom

May your Kingdom come soon. We are to pray that God will reign among men as they submit to His governance. We pray that His kingdom will grow and advance to the end of the world. (See Dan. 7:14-27; Matt. 3:2; Heb. 12:13)

In next weeks Facts we will discuss praying downward.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WHEN IT DOESNT PLAY OUT OUR WAY

Taking Jesus seriously by choosing to follow Him on His terms is not for the faint hearted. When you buy in with Him, buckle your seat belt because He will take you on a ride, the likes of which you could never have imagined.  The ride is not for the thrill, but for the development of our faith and the transformation of our character into His.  As our Sovereign, He reserves the right to test our faith to the bone.  Like it or not, it is usually in the crucible of testing that His greatest work is accomplished in and through us. (See Jms. 1:2-4)

My bet is that you have at least one nail biting issue in your life right now that may be taking you to the brink.  There are times when it gnaws into you like a broomstick thrust into the small of your back. Perhaps it is a cash flow problem,  or perhaps your spouse or a child has cancer, or your business is sinking, or your marriage is stale or fractured. Could it be that you are immobilized by fear.  Whatever it is, in your gut you may be asking, Where is Jesus in it all this? Why is He not delivering me?

Remember the story of Jesus and the sinking boat One day Jesus said to his disciples, Lets cross to the other side of the lake. So they got into a boat and started out. 23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, Master, Master, were going to drown! When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! 25 Then he asked them, Where is your faith? The disciples were terrified and amazed. Who is this man? they asked each other. When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!  (Lk. 8:22-25 NLT)

Three observations from Luke 8:22 25:

1)  Verses 22, 23: Gods clear leading may include severe testing of our faith, even to the point of life-threatening storms. (Consider Abraham and Hezekiahs severe testing in Genesis 22 and 2 Kings 19:1-19, 35,36. See also Psa. 44:23; 93:4; 107:23 30; Act. 9:19-25; 27:14-44)

 

2)  Verse 24: Because Jesus is sovereign in the circumstances that He arranges in our lives, He will bring resolution and calm on His time table, not ours.  (See Psa. 107:25-29; Lam. 3:54-58; 2 Cor. 1:8-10)

 

3)  Verse 25: Amidst rigorous testing of our faith Jesus expects us to implicitly trust Him for the outcome. (See Matt. 14:22-33; Lk. 12:28; Heb. 10:38, 39; 11:6)

PrayerLord, help me remember that you are the potter and I am the clay. Therefore, I choose this day to rest in your sovereign love, trusting that you have my best interests at heart that will result in your glory and the furtherance of your kingdom. Amen.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ON ENDING WELL (3 of 3)

Thus far we have discussed Noah, Moses and King David, men who started out well in their relationship with God, but egregiously sinned against Him in their later years.

Solomons life was a tragic mix of spirituality and sensuality, that ended in cynicism and bitterness. As an old man he penned this acidic conclusion about life: 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 (Ecc. 2:17b).

On the positive side: In his early years King Solomon exhibited a tender heart toward God in asking him for wisdom over wealth in response to Gods offer to give him whatever he requested (I Ki. 3:4,5). He also obediently built the temple of God (I Ki. 6).  And he was inspired by God to pen some of the most sublime literature in all of Scripture (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes).

On the negative side:  He stubbornly disobeyed God (1) in building alters to heathen gods (I Ki. 3:3; 11:5-8),  (2)  in ravenously pursuing hedonistic pleasures by taking foreign wives who turned his heart after other gods,[so that] his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been (I Ki.11:4b), and (3) in seeking to satisfy the longings of his heart by indulging in every imaginable pleasure rather than in developing a relationship with God (See Ecc. 1, 2).  

Major Failing:  A series of moral and spiritual compromises throughout his life.

Question:  Are you diligently and uncompromisingly applying biblical truth to your life? Or are you rationalizing truth in order to accommodate your secret and selfish desires?   .Ignorant and unstable people distortthe Scriptures, to their own destruction (2 Pet. 2:16 selected).

Uzziah became king at age 16 and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.  He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success (2 Chron. 26:2, 3).  (See 2 Chron. 26:9-15) Almost 40 years later after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense (2 Chron. 26:16). When confronted by the priests he violently railed against them, contracted leprosy, and was consigned to seclusion until the day of his death. (See 2 Chron. 26:17-23)

Major failing:  Pride. It has been my observation over these many years that precious few successful men and women remain humble and teachable.

Question:  My bet is that you are pretty good at your specialty.  Right? Sohas your success corroded your sense of dependency on Him? Or is your life characterized by true brokenness and humility?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ON ENDING WELL (2 of 3)

We are looking at five men, who in their latter years grievously sinned against God. In last weeks Facts we discussed Noah whose major sin seemed to be easing up on vigilance.

Moses dreadfully sinned late in his life at age 89. In the Desert of Zin the Israelites angrily gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron due to the lack of water and other difficult conditions. Moses and Aaron fall on their faces before God, and Moses is instructed to speak to the rock, assured by God that water will pour out. In anger he raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank (Num. 20:11).

Major failing: The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them" (Num. 20:12).  Could it be that after years of leading a whining band of rebellious malcontents, he was just sick of carrying the weight of the responsibility? Whatever the motivation, it cost him his entrance into the promised land.  How apropos is Ecclesiastes 10:1:  As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor

Question:  Leadership is costly and can be wearing.  If you are a leader, are you just gutting it out, or are you  allowing God to shoulder the weight for you? Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint (Isa. 40:31b).

David at about age fifty was at the high point of his remarkable life.  Tragically his unresolved issues with women over the years, finally caught up with him when he sinned with Bathsheba.  Lounging on his roof top instead of joining his troops in battle set him up for adultery and murder;  sins which filtered down through generations within his family and the nation.  Throughout his life Davids nemesis had been women, by (1) violating Gods mandate that kings were not to take multiple wives (Dt. 17:17), and (2) by speaking to God about every major issue in his life except his relationship with women.  (See 2 Sam. 11). (See also 2 Samuel 24 that reveals another serious failing of David later in his life).

Major failing: (1) Reaping the seeds of unresolved sexual issues, and (2) Transitioning from a warrior mentality and lifestyle to that of an indulgent consumer.

Question: Have you dealt with sexual issues head on?  That is, have you faced the Scriptures call to unmitigated purity and determined to live by His standard rather than yours or that of our culture?  Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;  and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. (I Thes. 4:4-8)

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

ON ENDING WELL (1 of 3)

Look around you. Do you see a lot of older people who are alive with Christ?  Still storming the enemys territory?  Still vitally engaged in evangelism and discipleship? Still reaching out to the poor and hurting? It seems to me that somewhere between ages 25 and 50 many believers lose their spiritual vitality, and their heart-felt engagement in the things that are precious to the heart of God.  What is it that derails so many believers, where ending well is now the unusual, rather than the norm? (See 2 Tim. 4:7) Jesus enumerated several causes: The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things [that] come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.  (Mk. 4:19). Doubtless there are a host of other reasons we could add such as pride, bitterness, resting on ones laurels, immorality, lack of integrity, a selfish lifestyle,  etc.

In three issues of the Facts we will discuss five men in the Old Testament who failed to end well. What can we learn from them so we dont repeat their mistakes?

Noah:  At the time of Noahs birth, God was deeply grieved over the rampant degradation of the human race: Every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (Gen. 6:5) Amidst this cesspool of iniquity, Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. (Gen. 6:10) Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came.  Up to that point he had lived righteously before God. After the flood however, he got drunk and lay naked before his sons  There is a great deal of conjecture among scholars as to the possible depth of his sin. (See Gen. 9:20-29)

Major failing:  Easing up on vigilance. Wendell Phillips was correct in stating, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Peter warned, Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (I Pet. 5:8).  (See Rom. 13:11-13; 1 Thess. 5:6-8)

Question:  Are you daily beefing up your walk with God in preparation for the inevitable attacks of your arch enemy, the Devil?  Or have you shifted down to a sort of spiritual  cruise control mode? St. Pauls words are worth taking seriously:  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall (I Cor. 10:12) (See Heb. 3:8; I Pet. 5:8)

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

R. Dwight Hill