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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for May, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

LAVISHED GRACE

While growing up, there wasnt exactly a lot of grace floating around our household. Most of the time there was just dead silence. Come home from school with As? Silence.  Get on an all star team? Silence. Achieve in student government? SilenceOr probably more accurately, indifference.

The adult world of work isnt much different.  In fact,  a lot of the guys I hang out with feel hung out to dry, twisting in the cultural winds of indifference, censorship, and exploitation.  In business its produce or get the pink slip.  In academia its publish or perish. 

Not so with our Savior. Before the creation of the world He chose, predestined and adopted us, simply by the pleasure of His good will (Eph. 1:4, 5).  Imagine:  His choosing of us had nothing to do with our performance.  Not only that, but He redeemed us from our sins in accordance with the riches of His grace that He lavished on us (Eph. 1:7,8). (See Act. 20:28; Jn. 6:51; 10:11; 15:13)

Lavished grace: Not an easy concept to grasp. Perhaps one reason is because many of us have experienced so little of it in the world around us.  And most of us find grace in short supply in the raw meat, cut throat business and professional world that demands we claw our way up the ladder to success, whatever the price tag.

So what is this lavished grace God freely grants to us?  The Greek word for lavish is perisseuo and conveys the idea of superfluous, abundance and excess.  For example, remember when:

 Jesus fed the thousands? The account states that all ate and were satisfied (Literally: gorged, filled) and the disciples picked up twelve basketsful of broken pieces that were left over (Matt. 14:20).

 Jesus told Peter to recast his net after a fruitless night of fishing?  They caught such a large number of fish that the nets began to break (Lk. 5:6).  (See Matt. 25:29; 2 Cor. 1:5; 8:9)  There is nothing parsimonious about our God!

When our young childrens adopted grandmother realized that they loved black olives, she proceeded to bring  them cans of black olives, every time she visited us.  She literally lavished olives upon them.

So, if you are struggling with a vexing sin, keep in mind His lavish grace which has been yours from all eternity. Just one caution: Paul reminds us,Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?…You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love (Rom. 6:1, 2; Gal. 5:13).  (See Rom. 6:15; 2:4; 5:21)

Having trouble forgiving someone who has offended you?  Then choose to grant them the same lavish grace the Father has extended to you. (See Matt. 18:21-35)  Do you see mediocrity and slipshod living among professed Christians?  Lets help them the best we can, but not with an attitude of cold censorship, but rather of Gods lavish grace.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

AMBITION 1

Our supreme ambition is to be the best we can be for God.  He is not pleased with us settling for bland mediocrity.  Sadly, most people settle for less because they do not have an overarching vision that is worth striving to achieve.  Grand achievements are not realized without complete abandonment to a goal that is worthy of inspiring greatness in us.  Sadly most people are driven by:

  Popularity:  The desire to build a reputation.

  Power:  The desire to exercise authority over others.

  Wealth:  The desire to amass a fortune and the power it gives over others.

The Prophet Isaiah stated, Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not  (45:5). Notice the Prophet said for yourself.  There is nothing wrong with ambition for God, His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.  Paul revealed his ambition for Gods Kingdom in stating, It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known (I Cor. 15:20). (See Rom. 1:14) Said David Brainerd, an early missionary to American Indians, I cared not how or where I lived, or what hardships I endured, so that I could but gain souls for Christ.

James and John reveal their bold faced selfish ambition in asking Christ, Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.  Jesus then instructed them that the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk. 10: 37, 42, 43 – 45).

I believe that what Christ was saying is that the greatness is in the serving; not that serving would elevate you to a position of greatness.  Because I am playing to an audience of One, I become great in Gods eyes and that is what counts!

Jesus was ambitious to accomplish His Fathers will:  I have come do your will, O God The night before the cross, He declared to His Father, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do (Heb. 10:7; Jn. 17:4).

At the funeral of Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, Billy Graham stated, Here was a man who did not say, These forty things I dabble in, but, This one thing I do.  A master ambition such as that overcomes all obstacles and thrives on difficulties and discouragements.2

St. Paul cautioned, There are manymen heading for utter destruction their god is their own appetites, their pride is  what they should be ashamed of, and their world is the limit of their horizon. But we are citizens of Heaven; our outlook goes beyond this world (Phil. 3:18 20 Selected; Philips Trans.)

QUESTION:  At your core, what is your real ambition? Does it revolve around you, or is it truly centered in God, His glory,  and His eternal purposes?  If not, you have some serious spiritual spade work to do.

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 Many of the ideas contained in this Facts were gleaned from Spiritual Disciplines –  J. Oswald Sanders, Moody Press, 1990, pages 67-73 – 2 Ibid, p. 71

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO DEVELOP EFFECTIVE LABORERS FOR GODS HARVEST FIELD? (Part 3 of 3)

 

In the last two Facts we then discussed two questions:  (1) What quality of disciple/laborers did Paul and his team produce and (2) What does it take to produce Pauls caliber of disciple/laborers? 

 

Earlier in this series I questioned whether this generation was up to the task of producing quality disciple/laborers. When I expressed my doubts, I had just come across an article by Charles A. Donovan, The Car-wreck Generation.  An excerpt:

Too many of us [The Boomer Generation] did not inherit the Great Generations greatest virtue: an ability to sacrifice.  Instead we embraced instant gratification and self infatuation.  We arrogantly thought we had invented sex, when all did was invent new ways to trivialize it. We mistook wants for needs, borrowed too much, saved too little.  In the process we helped our proud and productive nation recast itself as a consumption-dependent economy. Ours became the Age of Appetites. 1

The simple truth is that to win the lost and effectively produce true men and women of God we will have to crucify our life of incessant self-gratification, self-fulfillment, self-promotion, and self absorption.  In a word, our me-centered brand of pop khristianity just will not cut it. True discipleship means possessing at our core the very mind of Christ (See Phil. 2:3-8; 2 Cor. 10:5). Said Jesus, If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for my sake will save it  (Lk. 9:23, 24 Phil. Translation).

Even Paul found self-sacrificing laborers in short supply:  I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visitI have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:19b-21).  (See Ezek. 22:30)

SUGGESTION:  Prayerfully ponder your way through the bullet points under Question # 2 of the May 8, 2013 Facts: What does it take to produce Pauls caliber of disciple/laborers? Ask God to speak to your heart as to where you are in this ministry of winning the lost and discipling the saved.  Is there a specific change you need to make in your life at this time if you are dead serious about being a true laborer for God?

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 Opposing view on generations: The carwreck generation – USATODAY.com Nov 18, 2010- Charles A. Donovan

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO DEVELOP EFFECTIVE LABORERS FOR GODS HARVEST FIELD? (Part 2 of 3)

 

In last weeks Facts we lamented the rarity of truly effective disciple/laborers on the scene today.  We then posed two questions: (1) What quality of disciple/laborers did Paul and his team produce? 1 and (2) What did it take to produce Paul and his teams (Silas and Timothy) caliber of disciple/laborers?  The first question was discussed in last weeks  Facts.  We now continue with the second question:

 

Question # 2: What does it take to produce Pauls caliber of disciple/laborers? 

 Paul was strong in giving out affirmation to the Thessalonians. (I Thess. 1:3, 4)

 Pauls ministry was empowered by the Holy Spirit. (I Thess. 1:5)

 Paul was gentle with them like a child, nurturing like a mother, and strong like a father. (1 Thess. 2:7, 11)

 They (Paul and his team) 1 courageously endured extreme opposition both in Philippi and in Thessalonica.  (2 Thess. 1:1, 2)

 They considered the ministry a joy rather than a burden. (1 Thess. 1:2)

 They lived among the Thessalonians, thus giving them authentic models to imitate. (I Thess. 1:5, 6, 14)  You are witnessesof how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed (2 Thess. 2:10).

 They proclaimed the message without any deceit or impure motives or trickery (I Thess. 2:3 NLT).

 They gave the message with godly authority, not as man pleasers, or seekers of human praise. (I Thess. 2:4, 5-7)

 They not only shared the gospel but their own lives. (1 Thess. 2:8, 9)

 They toiled among the Thessalonians night and day to insure that they were not a financial burden on them. (1 Thess. 2:9).  Obviously, they were not after their money. (I Thess. 2:5). Though they had the right to financial support, they chose not to exercise it.  (See I Cor. 9:7-9; Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:18)

 They used every possible means of persuasion: We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy (1 Thess. 2:10 NLT).

 They presented Gods message in such a way that the Thessalonians considered it the very word of God. (I Thess. 2:14)

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 Pauls team: Silas (Acts 13:10) and Timothy (I Thess. 3:1-5)