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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, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DEALING WITH SUFFERING (3 of 5)

 

We continue in our discussion as to why we suffer:

 

God allows His disciples to suffer through persecution:

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecutedIf the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also (2 Tim. 3:12; Jn. 15:18-20). (See Matt. 5:10-12; Jn. 17:14; Heb. 11:32-39; I Pet. 4:10, 12-14) 

God allows suffering through Satans harassment:

 

Jesus: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. Paul:  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devourResist [Satan], standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings (Jn. 17:15; I Pet. 5:8, 9). (See Matt. 6:13; 13:19;  Jn. 8:44; Lk. 13:16; 2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 2:2; 1 Tim. 3:6,7; 2 Tim. 2:26; 1 Thess. 2:18)

God ordains that we take on the suffering of Christ:

[Christs] followers partake of His vicarious suffering, and fill up…. that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ. Here, surely is a profound thought which may throw a flood of light on the deep mystery of human affliction. The cross of Christ furnishes the key to the meaning of sorrow as the greatest redemptive force in the universe. 1 

Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the churchI want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his deathBut rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (Col. 1:24; Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 4:13). (See Act. 4:13; 2 Tim. 3:12; Heb. 11:32-38; I Pet. 2:20, 21)

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

DEALING WITH SUFFERING (2 of 5)

 

We continue in our discussion as to why we suffer:

 

God develops mature character in us through our perseverance in suffering: 

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (Jms. 1:2-4). (See Rom. 5:3-5; Act. 14:22; 1 Pet 1:6, 7)

 

God  allows  suffering in our lives in order to reveal the life of Christ in us:  

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body (2 Cor. 4:8-11)

God disciplines us through the suffering we cause from our own rebellion:  

Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:  How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,  since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you– when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.  Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.  Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,  they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.  For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm" (Pro. 1:20-33). (See Deu. 28; 32:15-43)

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

DEALING WITH SUFFERING (1 of 5)

 

Everywhere I look I see people who are stressed out. Too many activities, too little time. Fear of losing their jobs, fear that the Country is in serious decline, fear of increasing debt, fear of a gutted middle class. Fear that their kids are being polluted by their peers, the media, and the culture to the point that they are losing them. Jesus had it right when he said, In this world you will have trouble (Jn. 16:33b).  That word trouble coveys the idea of stress, to be crushed and pressured by evil forces. In a word: suffering.

 

Talk about the suffering that accompanies our fears: Just in my lifetime I  survived a global war that killed over 50 million people, have lived with implacable predictions of nuclear holocausts, over population, global food shortages, the AIDS epidemic, the depletion of fossil fuels, the threat of expanding deserts, plagues, growing global poverty, terrorist threats, the thinning ozone layer, mad-cow epidemics, Y2K computer bugs, killer bees, global warming, asteroid attacks, the disintegration of the family, declining morals, the loss of jobs to overseas competitors, etc., etc. To put it mildly, this world we live in is a scary place.1 Again, Jesus words of comfort, In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16:33).

Why do we suffer? 

 

God is disciplining us to make us more like Himself: Take a good look at Romans 8:18 -27. In a word, life is tough in a sin soaked world, and God is using its degradation and pain to fashion us  into the likeness of His Son: We know that in all things  (the hard stuff of  Romans 8:18-27) God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son (Rom. 8:28, 29) (See Isa. 1:35; Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:2, 3 Heb. 12:11)

 

God disciplines us by teaching us from the Scriptures:  Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law (Psa. 94:12).

 

God uses affliction to drive us to His word:  Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I  obey your word (Psa. 119:67). (See Psa. 119:71)

God  purifies our lives by entering into an adversarial relationship with us:I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities (Isa. 1:25). (See Zech. 13:8; Mal. 3:2, 3)

R. Dwight Hill

Adapted from The Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley HarperCollins Publishers New York, New York 2010 p. 280

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

RESTORING A FALLEN BROTHER (Part 4 of 4)

In the past three Facts we discussed steps we took to help get Kevin back on track spiritually. We now conclude with two final points on how we sought to prepare Kevin to victoriously win over Satans future attacks:

5.  Embrace the absolute necessity of doing life together with a group of vital believers where genuine care and accountability are high values:  Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Heb. 10:24, 25; Eph. 4:15, 16) (See Jms. 5:16; Ecc. 4:9-12)

6.  Decide that by Gods grace you will never again (1) put alcohol to your lips, and (2) you will never again  frequent bars and similar environments. Acknowledge that for you booze and bars are not an option for the rest of your life.  "Everything is permissible for me"–but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me–but I will not be mastered by anythingDo not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way (I Cor. 6:12; Pro. 4:14, 15).

Recently I listened at length to an old friend of many years who was once a powerful force for Christ. About twenty years ago he got off track by succumbing to his greed and lust.  Now in his later years, hes on his second marriage, regretting he divorced his first wife and also regretting he married his second wife. His adult childrens lives are in chaos.  Said he, I wasnt there for them. Translation:  I was out whoring around.  The depth of sadness in his eyes was truly heartbreaking to behold.  He has repented and is walking with the Lord, ministering to men struggling with problems similar to his.  But the raw reality is that he is an expended old man living with profound regret.

How true is Proverbs 5:11-14: At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction!  I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors.  I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly."

QUESTION: How are you doing at the core?  Are you solid or shaky? Is there dry rot or true integrity in the secret crevices of your heart?  Are you daily making decisions that indicate you are heading in the right direction that will culminate in a God-honoring finish? If not, what do you need to change today?

PRAYER: Lord, if I am honest, Kevin could be my twin brother in the sense that I too have my Achilles heel spiritually. I repent of my pride and smugness, and acknowledge that without your sustaining grace I am one heartbeat away from disaster. I appropriate your remarkable promise that we are more than conquers through Him who loved us and the One who is in [us] is greater than the one who is in the world. (Rom. 8:37b, I Jn. 4:4b).

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

R. Dwight Hill