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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for April, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

IRRATIONAL OBEDIENCE

The Scriptures inform us to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7 NKJV). Yet everything in us demands a rational explanation. “Show me. I’m from Missouri.” We want the security of knowing before acting. Our duplicitous mind and heart recoil at the prospect of truly trusting God with the unknown, much less with what seems to us to be the irrational. Yet God, in His determination to teach us to walk by faith, pushes us to trust Him in the most unlikely ways that simply defy common sense: ” My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the Lord.’ I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them…” (Isa. 55:8b; 42:16a). For example:

  • God to Noah, “Build a boat out here in the dessert. ” Noah: “What’s a boat?” “I’ll show you.” Noah: “Why would we want a boat in the dessert, Lord?” “Because I’m going flood the earth and drown all the wicked people.” Noah: “How long will it take me to build the boat Lord?” “One hundred and twenty years.” Noah: “But Lord, everyone will think I am a nut case.” God: “Noah, how long can you tread water?” (See Gen. 6).
  • God to Abraham: “Take your son, your only son whom you love…Sacrifice him …as a burnt offering.” Surely Abraham must have been thinking, “But Lord, what about your promise and fulfillment of giving me a son in my old age? You cannot be serious.” Yet Abraham obeyed, and in the eleventh hour God spared Isaac. (See Gen. 22:1-19)

  • God to Joshua: “There’s this fortified city, Jericho. March around it seven times, blow trumpets and shout, and the walls will collapse and you will take the city.” Joshua could have been thinking, “He wants us to drink the Kool-Aid.” Against all rationale, God’s word accomplished what He had promised. (See Jos. 5:13 – 6:21)
  • Jesus to Peter: “Throw your net over there on the other side of the boat .” “But Lord, you, an itinerate preacher know nothing about fishing. I have fished this lake for years and know what is going on here. Besides we fished all night and there are no fish to be had.” To his credit, Peter – against his every rational inclination – obeyed Jesus, and … well, you know the rest of the story. (See Jn. 21:1-14)

Faith, by its very definition, demands that we look beyond proof positive, to embrace the character and promises of God. Observe Moses’ testimonial, in retrospect, on God’s faithfulness to Israel, “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled” (Josh. 21:45).

CHALLENGE : Perhaps God is speaking to you about a direction or action He wants you to take that rationally does not pencil out. Consider: “…Without faith it is impossible to please God…My righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him” (Heb. 11:6a; 10:38a). Today, choose to please God by believing and obeying Him, whatever His terms.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

HAVING A TOUGH DAY SPIRITUALLY? READ THIS :

  • In spite of our epic battle with sin we do not stand condemned : “…What I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doingThere is…no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 7:19; 8:1). (See Rom. 4:8; Jn. 3:18; 5:24)
  • By the liberating power of the Holy Spirit, I can be set free from sin’s power : “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and deathyou have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do…You…are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you” (Rom. 8:2, 12b (NLT), 9). (See Rom. 6:6,7, 10-14, 17, 18, 22; Gal. 5:16)

  • Our suffering is not wasted since it is through this crucible that we are being conformed to Christ’s image : “…We…groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies…And we know that in all things 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. 8:23b, 28-29a). (See I Jn. 3:2)

  • Nothing can separate us from Christ’s love . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers…neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35, 38b, 39) (See Psa. 103:17; Jer. 31:3; Jn. 10:28; 2 Thess. 2:16)

  • There is absolutely nothing that God will withhold from us that is in our best interest and for His glory : “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). (See Psa. 84:11; I Cor. 3:21-23)

  • Inner peace is ours if we allow our minds to be controlled by the Spirit : “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6b). (See Rom. 5:1; 14:17, 27)

  • With Christ’s help we are the overwhelming victors : “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). (See I Cor. 15:54, 57; 2 Cor. 2:14)

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SOME PRACTICAL THOUGHTS ON WALKING IN THE SPIRIT 1

Do you believe it’s possible to maintain a consistent, intimate walk with God throughout your day? In a word, victoriously walk in the power of the Holy Spirit as the norm in your daily experience? By walking in the Spirit I mean, “habitually [ordering] your lifestyle through the Spirit’s guidance [so that you] will not be deflected by the desires of the flesh, from a walk in fellowship with God.”2

Within us rages a battle between the two conflicting principles of our sinful and spiritual natures. The focus of the battle between these two forces is our will as we choose which principle we will allow to have dominion. Contrary to common perception, it is not ours to crucify the flesh – our life of self. That was accomplished at Calvary. Our responsibility is to consider Christ’s victory at the cross on our behalf to be true: “C ount yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 11:6b). Thus, as we by faith appropriate Christ’s victory on our behalf, emancipation from the dominion of our fleshly desires becomes our new reality and norm.

Consider Galatians 5:16 and 25:” …Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” That is, we are to continually acknowledge and respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and guidance as we depend upon his power for victory.

“Walking in the Spirit does not mean that we will be immune from the pull of fleshly desires. When the Spirit fills us, he does take control of our personality, but he does not dehumanize us. The desires assert themselves, but we will be enabled by the Spirit’s strengthening to refrain from gratifying them. We are still in the field of battle, but we no longer fight alone. We have a powerful though unseen Ally on whom to rely.” 3

Walking in the Spirit means walking in accordance with the Word of God – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…” (Col. 3:16a). It also means walking in obedience to God’s will: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

As we walk in the Spirit the power of our fleshly desires will diminish in their force and allurement. Our sensitive obedience to the restraining and empowering voice of the Spirit will spell victory. This victory is not the result of us choking back our sinful urges, but rather the counteracting operation of a higher, more powerful law: “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2b).

On a personal note, let me share what works for me on this issue of walking in the Spirit:

I choose to make unrushed, quality time with God my first priority of each day.

I choose to practice God’s presence throughout the day by bringing Jesus into every aspect of my life: worshipping him throughout the day, entreating him for wisdom and patience, and thanking him for his guidance and sovereignty in the day’s affairs.

If, during the day I break fellowship with him in a weak moment of anger, fear, a lustful gaze, or an impatient urge, I stop what I am doing and confess the sin. Then and only then do I re-engage in the affairs of the day. I have found that if I fail to deal with the sin immediately, I have lost the war effort and end up walking in the flesh for the rest of the day.

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

R. Dwight Hill

1Many of the basic concepts put forward in this “Facts” are derived from, Enjoying Intimacy with God–J. Oswald Sanders, Discovery House Publishers, 1992, pgs. 78-85; 2 ibid pg. 79; 3 ibid pg. 85

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

HOW DO YOU MEASURE TRUE CHRISTIAN LOVE IN YOUR ROUGH AND TUMBLE MARKETPLACE WORLD?

Let’s be honest. The market place should probably be re-named, “The Meat Market:” Produce or go home with your tail between your legs. Play the game, go with the flow, bend the rules, smooze the guy who signs the checks, protect your image, beat out the competition by hook or crook. In a word, “Ya do what ya gotta do to survive.”

Except when you settle it in your heart that God, not you, is your protector and provider. Except when you grab the promises of God and choose to operate on his terms rather than the world’s. It is only then that you experience the miracle of God’s inexplicable working on your behalf. If we truly believe God, we can afford to relax, and love and become vulnerable to those around us. This is when you really begin to see God work through you for his glory.

The Scriptures inform us that love is the greatest thing in the world (I Cor.13:13). Yet, how do you know when you are genuinely living out that love? Here is one definition of love worthy of consideration: Love is “that tender, cherishing attitude, that unlimited self-forgetfulness, generosity and kindness which is in the attitude of God toward all his creatures.”1 With I Corinthians 13 in mind, evaluate yourself on how you are doing in your place of work by asking the following questions: 2

Am I willing to do the small things, especially when no one is looking? “ If you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Lk. 16:10) (See Lk. 19:17)

Do I look for opportunities to show kindness to people who are usually ignored, shunned or overlooked? (See Matt.8:1-3)

Do I rejoice with the success of my colleagues and peers? “…Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (Jms. 3:16).

Do I resist the temptation to draw the attention to myself ? “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3, 4).

Do I treat everyone with respect and courtesy? (See Jms. 1:2-7)

Do I actively choose not to provoke other people? “ Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psa. 34:12-14).

Do I consciously choose to frame things in a positive manner, giving my colleagues the benefit of the doubt (while not being blind to their foibles)? (See I Pet. 3:8-11)

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

R. Dwight Hill

1Evelyn Underhill, The Fruits of the Spirit” pg 14; 2 Adapted from Taking Your Soul To Work” Erdmann’s Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, MI 2010 pg 83

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM JESUS’ NATURAL MANNER OF MINISTERING TO PEOPLE?

My guess is that most of us are probably a bit uptight on how to go about ministering to the “lost” among us. How often have we blurted out brittle, poorly timed, and faintly thought through pontifications? Or we have wilted in silence; inert for fear of offending? Following are a few questions we may want to ask ourselves as we ponder the story of Jesus’ healing a blind man in a poised and natural fashion. (Jn. 9)

  • As I make my way through my day, am I aware of the prevailing needs of those around me?

    To be honest, I tend to be oblivious toward those around me, self-absorbed as I am in my own affairs. This was not the case with Jesus who chose to look beyond himself to others and their needs: As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth…” (vs. 1).

  • Is my natural inclination to pre-judge those in my path? I confess that first impressions and snap judgments generally prevail, before the person even opens their mouth. I have learned that I am wrong in most of my assessments once I make the effort to know the person. The disciples had the same problem: “ His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (vs. 2)

  • Do I recognize that God has a sovereign and unique plan for each individual? Jesus knew God’s hidden purpose for this gravely handicapped man: ” Neither this man nor his parents sinned…but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life’” (vs. 3). In their rush to judgment, the disciples impetuously catalogued him as either a sinner, or the son of sinners.

  • Do I have a sense of divine urgency in accomplishing God’s work? Frankly, my nervous agenda generally takes precedent over responding to the needs of others around me. Jesus informed the disciples, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (vs 4). (See also Lk. 10:25-37)

  • Am I prevented from being used of God because I am paralyzed by the fear of man? The blind man was fearless in challenging the Jewish leaders. When quizzed about Jesus, he said, “I think he must be a prophet.” Called in a second time, they denigrate Jesus and press him for an explanation, “LookI have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” (vs. 27) (See also vss. 30-33) Oh, that I had that quality of fearlessness before men!

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

R. Dwight Hill