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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for June, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO WALK AS JESUS DID (Part 1 of 2)

The Scriptures inform us, Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did (I Jn. 2:6), What does that look like for us who are seeking to live out the Gospel as blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which [we] shine like stars in the universe (Phil. 2:15)?

To help us answer that question let us look at excerpts from Isaiah 52 and 53 that contain the prophecy of Jesus the suffering Servant in light of His redemptive work at Calvary:

  There were many who were appalled at Him– His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness (Isa. 52:14).

Then they spit in His face and struck Him with their fists. Others slapped HimThey spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again (Matt. 26:67; 27:30). (See Isa. 50:6; Psa. 22:7, 15, 17)

QUESTION: What level of suffering am I willing to submit to for Christ and His cause?

 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not (Isa. 53:3).

Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!  In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him.  He saved others, they said, but He can't save Himself! He's the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, for He said, 'I am the Son of God.' In the same way the robbers who were crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him (Matt. 27:39-44). (See Mk. 15:19; Lk. 8:53; 16:14; 23:18-25)

QUESTON: Am I willing to be despised and rejected as a follower of Christ?

 It was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer  (Isa. 53:10b).

Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God
(Eph. 5:2b)  (See Rom 4:25; 2 Cor. 5:21; I Pet. 3:18)

QUESTION: Am I willing to trust that Gods crushing blows in my life are for a larger good that may lay outside of my capacity to comprehend?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SIN? (Part 2 of 2)

In last weeks Facts I wrote about the weakness of much pulpit preaching on tough issues like adultery, divorce and re-marriage, the lack of sermons addressing our sweeping moral decline. Rather, our ears are being tickled with easy feel goodism, and cheap grace. I asked the question, Whatever happened to the word sin?  The answer: It has been replaced with euphuisms. We continue:

Sin, the word that seems to have disappeared from our vocabulary:

  Is everything in our disposition, purpose and conduct that is contrary to the expressed will of God Jms. 4:17; Rom. 3:20; 7:7

 Is violating the righteous nature of God Lev. 11:45

 Is a condition of the heart – Matt. 15:18-20; Gen. 3:1-6

 Is revealed in the Law of Moses Exo. 20

 Is putting self before God 2 Tim. 3:2, 4; 2 Thes. 2:3,4

 Is breaking the Law I Jn. 3:2

 Is rejecting the light and truth of Jesus Jn. 3:18, 19

 Is falling short of Gods standard; missing the mark Rom. 3:23

 Is universal Rom. 3:23; I Jn. 1:8; I Kin. 8:46

 Results in enslavement Rom. 6

 Results in depravity Rom. 1:29; 2 Pet. 2:19

 Results in spiritual blindness 2 Cor. 4:5

 Results in guilt Psa. 32:3,4; 51:3, 8-12

 Results in death Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14; Eph. 2:12

 Results in unimaginable suffering – Deut. 28:15-68

One of the great needs of our day is for strong men of God preaching the word of God without equivocating. Men who live, soak and breathe the Scriptures. Men who labor on their knees and preach with fire and conviction, coupled with deep compassion. Men who go to the mountain and meet God and get His  vision and message for their ministry. Not men who twaddle off to conferences and take notes on how to do church.  Hey, we need visionaries with conviction, filled with the Spirit of God who dont quake at mens shadows, no matter who they are.

This sick world also needs laymen and women who stand up for what is right in the marketplace of ideas and commerce, at whatever the cost. Instead, what we seem to have is back slapping palsy-walsy men pleasers.  In place of men with steal in their spines, we have nice guys with vanilla in their veins. God help us all. Because unless there is good old fashion Bible teaching that fosters repentance and revival, we are headed for trouble, the likes of which we cannot imagine in our worst nightmare.

And folks, that transformation needs to begin with you and with meIf my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land  (2 Chro. 7:14).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SIN? (Part 1 of 2)

Am I missing something? Perhaps I am just getting senile and cranky in my old age, but I cant remember the last time I heard a sermon on the evils of adultery, and what the Bible says about divorce and re-marriage.  Because our society is dripping with sexual slop everywhere we turn, a lot of men I know (and probably women also) are struggling with sexual impurity and pornography. Good grief, how many women walk around half dressed, strutting their stuff!  No wonder men struggle! Then there is the filth in the media, the internet, and You Tube.  And not one word from the pulpit on these evils.  Talk about a bad case of ostrich-itis .  The Country is in a frightening moral and spiritual decline and were getting 22 minute sermonets that are producing christianets.  Ever hear a sermon any more on the coming  judgment? Most of what I hear is, Just believe and receive, nothing about the fact of sin and our need for repentance.  I am all for the grace of God.  Id be dead without it, but it has to be preached in the context of mans depravity and Gods holiness. Otherwise it is mush.

When was the last time your pastor took you sequentially through a book of the Bible (i.e. The lost art of expository preaching!)?  And with much love and truth let the chips fall where they may? Paul told the Ephesians elders, I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will (Lit.: purpose, intention) of God Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears (Act. 20:27, 31). He later instructed Timothy, Preach the Wordcorrect, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths  (2 Tim. 4:2-4).

Ya know what folks. I think we are there. When was the last time we were corrected or rebuked in a sermon from the pulpit?  A lot of encouragement to be sure, but rebuke?  I dont think so. Most of what I am hearing is about how God can make you feel better; how He will wipe away your tears, and brighten you up a bit.  The message that comes across is, God is nice and He wants you to be nice too. 

Whatever happened to the word sin.  Darn. I do believe it has disappeared from our vocabulary:  

 Instead of adultery we have affairs, liaisons, inappropriate relationships, flings.

 Instead of fornication we hook up, get laid, hit on someone.

 Instead of stealing we borrow.

 Instead of lying we shade the truth, have a different perspective, and tell white lies, and miss-speak.

 Sin is now a mistake, a bad or unfortunate choice, or a lapse in judgment.

 

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WHY ARE WE TRYING TO PROVE WE ARE SOMEBODY?

I grew up in a family where affirmation did not exist. So as a kid, I felt pretty crummy about myself. After coming to Christ at age 15, I began to seriously dig into the Scriptures.  One liberating truth I discovered was who I am in Christ.  Talk about being set free!

Sadly, most sincere believers I know seem to struggle with their identity, laboring under a sense of low self-worth. Many appear to be thrashing their way through life, striving to prove to themselves and others that they are indeed somebody.  What a tragic and unnecessary exercise in futility. If they only knew who they already are in the eyes of God, and how incredibly precious they already are to Him, they would be set free from their bondage to self-absorbson.  (See Psa. 119:32; Jn. 8:32, 36; Gal. 5:1; 1 Pet. 2:16)

You might want to grab a cup of coffee, prop your feet up, and soak on the following passage from Ephesians 1:11-14a (TLB): Because of what Christ has done, we have become gifts to God that He delights in, for as part of Gods sovereign plan we were chosen from the beginning to be His, and all things happen just as He decided long ago. Gods purpose in this was that we should praise God and give glory to Him for doing these mighty things for us, who were the first to trust in Christ.  And because of what Christ did, all you others too, who heard the Good News about how to be saved, and trusted Christ, were marked as belonging to Christ by the Holy Spirit, who long ago had been promised to all of us Christians. His presence within us is Gods guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised; and the Spirits seal upon us means that God has already purchased us and that He guarantees to bring us to Himself (For further study on key words in this passage:  Chosen (inheritance): Col. 1:12; I Pet. 1:4; Purpose: Psa. 33:11; Pro. 19:21; Dan. 4:35; Heb. 6:17; Seal: Matt. 27:66)  (For further enrichment you may also want to prayerfully ponder Eph. 1:3-8)

The word chosen (vs.11) can also be translated inheritance or heritage, and communicates the idea that God determined from all eternity that those who put their trust in Christ He makes His own glorious heritage and possession.  This was accomplished at Calvary when Jesus won us as the spoils of His victory over sin, Satan, and death.  "You are not your own; you were bought at a price…(I Cor. 6:19b, 20a). (See Mal. 3:17)

Jesus repeatedly spoke of believers as gifts that the Father had given Him:  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away (Jn. 6:37).  (See Jn. 6:39; 17:2, 24).

Scholars teach that the word inheritance (Greek: eklerothmen) can also be translated the other way: It is believers who receive the inheritance.  Peter writes, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you (I Pet. 1:3, 4).  Both emphasis are grammatically and theologically correct:  We are in Christ and He is in us.   He who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit (I Cor. 6:17).

CHALLENGE:  Why dont we determine that from this day forward we will live as His precious possessions, rather than expending our energy trying to prove our worth. After all, we are, right now, joint-heirs with Christ! (Rom. 8:17) (See Matt. 25:21; Lk. 22:29, 30; Jn. 17:24; Rev. 3:21; 21:7)

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

R. Dwight Hill