BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

FIVE OBSERVATIONS FROM THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER (Matt. 13:1-23; Mk. 4:1-20; Lk. 8:11-15)

One: Effective sowers of the Gospel are intentional in their effort to get out the word of God: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. (Matt. 13:3) Clearly it is Jesus desire that we purposefully engage with the lost in our efforts of winning them to Christ: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil oneAs you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world (Jn. 17:15, 18).

Two: Sowers are not particular perhaps even indiscriminate – as to who hears the message of the Gospel:  In the Parable of the Sower, the seed is randomly exposed to varied kinds of hearts: Hard, shallow, distracted, and good. (Matt. 13:3-9).  Fear and over analysis in the sowing process can lead to paralysis and inconsequential results.  (See Ecc. 1:1-6)

Three: Sowers expect to encounter the enemy when engaging in evangelism: As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it upWhen anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart  (Matt. 13:4, 19a).

Four: Sowers encounter four major hindrances to their seed reaching maturity: (1) Shallow hearts:  Some [seed] fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away (Matt. 13:5, 6, 20, 21), (2) The worries of this life, (3) the deceitfulness of wealth and (4) the desires for other things (Mk. 4:19).

Five: When the  sowers seed lands on good soil it produces quality fruit: Observe the description of the good soil (heart):  As for that [seed] in the good soil, these are [the people] who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just (noble, virtuous) and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience (Lk. 8:15 Amp.).

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND CHALLENGE: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose]  (I Cor. 15:58 Amp.).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

DOUBLE-MINDED: Vacillating. Indecisive. Uncertain. Wavering. Double-dealing. Insincere. Hypocritical.

Could this be usWhat I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.  (Rom. 7:15, 19, 20 Msg.)

The Israelites had the same problem:  First Samuel, chapters seven and eight portray a nation that appeared to be passionate about the things of God: Samuel said to all the people of Israel, If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines. So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord. (I Sam. 7:3, 4 NLT)

Yet, their desire to conform to the surrounding nations over rode their passion for God: "Give us a king to lead usThen we will be like all the other nationswith a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."  (I Sam. 8:6b, 19, 20) Psalm 106: 34-36 reflects back on Israel s failure:  They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them, but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. (See Jos. 24:19, 20; I Kin. 18:2; Matt. 6:24)

Tragically, they chose to place their destiny in the hands of man rather than God in order to insure their future security.  Observe the Scriptures clear warning against such thinking: Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  (Psa. 146:3; Jer. 17:5)  (See Psa. 118:8)

James cautions us that the man who trusts God but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next.  That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.  (Jms. 1:6-8 Philips Trans.)

CHALLENGEIn an age of weak-kneed Christianity, with which group do you choose to line up:

 The men of Pauls admonition? Let us be Christs men from head to foot, and give no chances to the flesh to have its fling. (Rom 13:14 Philips Trans.) or

  The double-minded men of Ephraim who turned tail when the time came for fighting? (Psa. 78:9 b) (See Heb. 10:38, 39)

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

BOTTOM LINE DISCIPLING (Part 6 of 6)

In our previous Facts we stressed (1) the disciplers need to set the pace and example of depth in his relationship with God, (2) Discipleship is relationship based, not program based, (3) As disciplers, I suggested we consider building the following disciplines into our disciples lives: Quiet Time, Scripture Memory, Bible study, evangelism and discipleship of others.

As a discipler we need to learn the art and discipline of listening.  Sadly, most of us talk too much and listen and observe too little. (See Jms. 1:19) It is important that we learn to listen compassionately to the heart of the people we are seeking to disciple.  What are their fears, defeats and pains?  How can I lead them to Jesus for healing, restoration and renewed hope?  We need to create an atmosphere of acceptance so that they will feel free to bear their heart with us. (See Pro. 20:5) One way is to be transparent with them about our own life to the degree that is appropriate and they can handle.

Believe it, discipleship is a spiritual battle.  Once your disciple begins to grow spiritually he will become a threat to the Enemy and will experience his attacks.  To ward off Satan, intercessory prayer on your part is a must.  Paul confided to the Galatians, My little children, for whom I am again suffering birth pangs until Christ is completely and permanently formed (molded) within you (Gal. 4:19). Doubtless that travail included deep heart-felt prayer to the Father on their behalf.  The night before the cross Christ prayed extensively for the Twelve disciples. (See John 17) That passage, coupled with Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-12 contain invaluable material on what to pray for your disciple(s)d. 

Finally, we need to speak into our disciples life.  That is, as we observe patterns of sin, or character weaknesses, we should pray, ponder and wait. When clearly prompted by the Holy Spirit, speak to him about issues critical to his spiritual growth. We are to care enough to confront; care enough to risk the friendship, if necessary.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Pro. 27:6 NKJV)

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

BOTTOM LINE DISCIPLING (Part 5 of 6)

Here is a simple pattern to use in building the spiritual disciplines (Bible study, Scripture memory, etc) into your disciples life:  Dont just tell him to do it. Rather:

  Tell him why:  That is, motivate him.

  Show him how:  That is, demonstrate it to him.

  Get him started: That is, break the inertia.

  Keep him going:  That is, get them to persevere.

  Get him to pass it on: That is the beginning of spiritual multiplication. You only know he owns the discipline when he passes it on. 

In our previous Facts we have discussed the disciplines of Quiet Time with God, Scripture Memory, and Bible study.  Our last discipline is training our disciples to participate in the Great Commission of winning people to Christ and then discipling them. (Matt. 28:18-20)  For starters, we must model for them how to live and labor among the lost. The lost must become our friends. Jesus was accused of being a drunkard, glutton, and a friend of sinners because he hung out with the lost, winning many of them to himself. (See Lk. 7:34; Matt. 11:19) We are to emulate Jesus in this regard.  We will best teach evangelism to our emerging disciples by modeling Jesus pattern as we relate to our neighbors, business associates, club members, etc.

There are several effective ways to present the Gospel.  Every disciple, should, for example have his testimony ready to give at an opportune time. (See I Pet. 3:15)  Study Pauls testimony in Acts 26:1-23, and follow his pattern of telling about his life before his conversion, how he came to Christ, and what his life has been like since. Have your disciple write out his testimony,  keeping it to five minutes or less due to peoples short attention span. 

Several effective tools for presenting the Gospel are available at Christian book stores or through para-church organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ, Inter-Varsity Press, and the Navigators. 

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

BOTTOM LINE DISCIPLING (Part 4 of 6)

In our two previous Facts we discussed the discipline of getting into Gods word through the Quiet Time, Scripture memory and Bible study.  We now continue our discussion of Bible study:

Other questions you may what to ask of the passage you are studying:

 What is commanded?

 What is promised?

 What are repeated words or ideas?

 What do I learn about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?

 What do I learn about myself or my fellow man?

 What is the big idea in this passage?  Develop your thoughts into a paragraph or two.

 Ask questions relative to the big idea with how, why, or what.

 Outline or summarize the passage.

 Look up cross references to some of the key verses or ideas. Ask what is the connecting thought?

 You may want to consult commentaries (as a last resort) regarding difficult verses or passages.

Complete the study by writing an application.  2 Timothy 3:16 states that all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for

–  Teaching:  What did I learn?

–  Reproof:  Where do I fall short?

–  Correction:  What do I plan to do about it?

–  Training in righteousness:  How can I make this principle a consistent part of my life?

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

R. Dwight Hill