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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for August, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WHO DETERMINES YOUR STANDARD OF LIVING?

You?  God?  Circumstances? 

ConsiderIf you start thinking to yourselves, I did all this. And all by myself. I'm rich. It's all mine! well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth  (Deu. 8:17, 18a Msg.).

Reason argues that you determine your standard of living on earth and God determines it in heaven.

Revelation says the opposite: GOD determines your standard of living on earth1 and YOU determine it in heaven.2 People think that they should work hard to improve their lives;  Jesus said, Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.3 An individual works hard and earns money, concluding that this money is the product of his labor.4 If he someday faces bankruptcy, he works even harder, only to find that it doesnt save his business. Then he learns that you can work hard and earn little.  God makes the determination.5

The uneven distribution of gifts6, abilities7, opportunities8, and circumstances9, ensures the individuals dependence upon God to determine his standard of living.  God dictates your socioeconomic environment, as well as your intellect and health.10 Jesus makes these determinations in hopes that you willnot worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. 11 He makes these decisions so that you will be motivated to lay up treasures in heaven.12

Salvation is by grace13; rewards are by works.  You, not God, determine your standard of living in heaven. In an act of grace, He eliminates the possibility of your determining it on earth so that you can focus on the eternal.14,15

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

R. Dwight Hill

 1Job 1; 2Matt.5:12; 6:1, 2, 4; 10:42; 16:27; Lk. 6:35; Col. 3:23, 24; Heb. 11:26; 3Jn. 6:27; 4ICor. 4:7, 5Psa. 127:1, 2; Pro. 10:22;  6 I Cor. 12:7-11; 7 Luke 12:48; 8Matt. 25:14-29; 9Lk. 16:19-31;  10Jn. 9:1-3; 11 Matt. 6:25; 12 Matt. 6:19, 20; 13 Eph. 2:8,9; Tit. 3:5; 14 2 Cor. 4:18; 15Excerpts taken from Scripture and thoughts from the Diary of a Desperate Man Walter Henrichsen, as amended by Samuel K. Beler December 2001

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DEAD FLIES AND OUR SPEECH (Part 2 of 2)

One important truth the Scriptures teach us about this issue of speech is that with our tongue we have the power to either breathe life into people or suck it out of them:  The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Pro. 18:21). (See Pro. 10:21, 31; Col. 3:6)

Also, the Scriptures enjoin us to refrain from:

  Obscenity (Greek: morologia):  Filthy speech, telling repulsive stories (along with indecent behavior).  (See Eph. 5:4)

  Foolish talk (Greek: euteiapelia):  Silly, purposeless talk. That is, vulgar or dirty talk; to act or speak without thought; to be suggestive in conversation; buffoonery, repartee, ribaldry. By contrast our speech is to reflect thanksgiving. (See Eph. 5:4)

  Empty words (Greek: kenon):  Senseless, groundless, useless, vain words, void of all meaning and truth, of such things the wrath of God is coming on those who disobey (Eph. 5:6) 

  Unwholesome talk (Greek: sapros):  Bad, rotten, putrid speech. Rather, we are to only to speak that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph. 4:29).

  Dirty language (Greek: asichrologia): Vile conversation, foul mouthed abuse: But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Col. 3:8).

  Slander (Greek: katalalia):  Backbiting, defamation, speaking critically of another person with the intent to hurt:  Brothers, do not slander one anotherAnyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it (Eph. 4:31a; James 4:11, 12).  (See Lev. 19:16)

By way of contrast, the word of God instructs us to let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with saltLive in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (Col. 4:6; I Pet. 3:8b, 9). (See Pro. 10:31, 32; 12:13; 15:2-4, 7, 23; 16:21; 25:11, 12)

 CONCLUSION:  The gravity of the speech issue is driven home in Christs warning that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt. 12:36b, 37).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

DEAD FLIES AND OUR SPEECH (Part 1 of 2)

The other day I had to pull a couple of my buddies aside and apologize to them for my coarse language. When I tried to be cute, the Holy Spirit nailed me, reminding me that as dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs  wisdom and honor (Ecc. 10:1).  Translation: Dwight, in a New York minute you can spoil a good reputation that has taken a lifetime to build by one inappropriate comment.  To make matters worse, just the week before, my application from my Bible study was taken from Ephesians 4:29:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

I dont know about you, but man, can I identify with James when he says,

 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

But tough as it is to keep our tongue in check, we know that a fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control (Gal. 5:23). So what is our excuse?

Curiously, Jesus taught us that the tongue is not the real problem:  Whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart (Matt. 12:34b, 35 NLT).

Gulp.

APPLICATION: How about the idea of keeping tabs this week of your language, recording the times your speech is not in keeping with Jesus character. Then ask yourself the question, What do my patterns of speech reveal about the condition of my heart? AndWhat do I need to do about it?

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

 R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WE ARE AS CLOSE TO GOD AS WE WANT TO BE

The other night I had a bible study with a group of men who were making excuses as to why they had spent so little time with Christ the previous week.  As they were speaking, all I could think about is the incredible love God has for them and what they are missing by allowing secondary issues to crowd out personal time with our loving God.  Consider:

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose usHe is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward usMay you have the power to understand, as all Gods people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully (Eph. 1:4, 7; 2:4, 5, 7; 3:18, 19 NLT Selected).

J. I. Packer writes, What matters supremelyis not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact that underlies it the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands, I am never out of His mind.  All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him because He first knew me and continues to know me. He knows me as a friendThere is tremendous relief in knowing  that His love to me is utterly realistic based on every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery can now disillusion Him about me. 1

The fact is that we are as close to God as we want to be. We, not God, determine the degree of intimacy we experience  with Him. The 70, the 12, the 3 and the 1 (John?) decided their closeness, not God.  He has no favorites. The truth is that most of us are unwilling to pay the price of choosing the right priorities and exercising the necessary discipline to carve out the time necessary to cultivate that intimacy with Him.  Thus, the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things have come in and choked the word, making it unfruitful (Mark 4:19).

It would seem that admission to the inner circle of deepening intimacy with God is the outcome of deep desire. Only those who count such intimacy a prize worth sacrificing anything else for are likely to attain it. If other intimacies are more desirable to us, we will not gain entry to that circle. 2

I am currently discipling two men who hit the bottom in their lives through varied circumstances. In a word they had become desperate men.  I had the privilege of leading one of them to Christ in the ICU of a hospital.  Over the following weeks and months I have been coaching these two men on how to spend meaningful time with Christ.  Today, they are truly desperate to know God and are growing like wild men, ravenously seeking and discovering Christ as if their very lives depended on it. Is it any wonder God informs us that, you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jer. 29:13).

QUESTION: If Christ seems distant to you I wonder who moved? 

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

R. Dwight Hill

1Knowing God London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1973, 41 2 Oswald J. Sanders – Enjoying Intimacy with Christ: Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers 1992, p. 17