BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for March, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ARE YOU AN EFFECTUAL LABORER FOR CHRIST? (Part 4 of 6) 1

In the previous two “Facts” we emphasized that effectual laborers walk with God, possess a passion to know, love and become like Jesus, live among the lost, winsomely and fruitfully engaging and embracing people wherever they are as they verbalize and live out the gospel.

Effectual laborers also know and love the Scriptures, recognizing God’s word to be sufficient in its application to all of life :

  • In a world of cynicism, they find God’s word to be trustworthy, thoroughly tested in the laboratory of life . (See Psa. 119:138, 140)
  • The Scriptures teach them how to live , rebuke them when they get out of line, correct their ways, and train them to stay on the path. God’s word is a joy to their heart, enlightens their eyes; has proven to be more precious than gold, and sweeter than honey. The word of God warns them of life’s dangers and rewards them when they obey it. Not only that, the Scriptures furnish them with understanding on how to live life; finding the Word to be fully trustworthy, cleansing their soul, liberating them from bondage, and helping them to distinguish good from evil. (See Psa. 19:7-11; 119:144, 138; Jn. 17;17; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Heb. 5:14; Jms. 1:24)
  • God’s word liberates them in accordance with Jesus’ promise : “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31, 32).
  • The Scriptures grant them good judgment, insight, wisdom and understanding, thus enabling them to live stable lives. (See Psa. 119:66, 99, 100, 104, 130)
  • Thus, their hearts are “set on keeping [God’s] decrees to the very end ” (Psa. 119:112) because they are blessed when they obey, experiencing victory over sin as God directs their steps. (See Psa. 119:1, 9- 11)

CHALLENGE : George Muller (1805 – 1898) stated that “the vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts.” God help us, his laborers, to make spending time with the Lord Jesus in the context of his holy word a top priority.

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

R. Dwight Hill

1The core concepts in this six part series are derived from a bulletin from the U. S. Director of the Navigator, March, 2013

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

ARE YOU AN EFFECTUAL LABORER FOR CHRIST ? (Part 3 of 6) 1

In last week’s “Facts” we emphasized the fact that effectual laborers walk with God and possess a passion to know, love and become like Jesus.

Effectual laborers also :

  • Live among the lost : We Christians tend to become insular by living in a parallel universe to that of the lost. Our church involvement, important as much of it is, runs the potential of isolating us from the lost, as we find our natural patterns of engagement with people with whom we share common values and interests.

It takes energy and inertia to purposely engage with the lost. Face it, many are self-absorbed, and rather unpleasant to be around. Yet Calvary love compels us to actively love them. “Love looks for a way of being constructive” (I Cor. 13:4 – Phil. Trans.).

Often it seems counter-intuitive and inconvenient to make the effort to engage the lost. Yet Jesus socialized with ease among them. (See Jn. 2:1-12; Matt 9:9-13) Because he ate and drank with them he was labeled, (heaven forbid), “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners”‘ (Lk. 7:34b).

  • Winsomely and fruitfully engage and embrace people wherever they are : You know, it’s hard to hug a porcupine, and religious folks can come off as prickly to the lost. Paul admonished us to live “ prudently and with discretion in [our] relations with…non-Christians…Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you]” (Col. 4:5, 6 – Selected; Amp.). (See 2 Cor. 6:3,6; 2 Tim. 2:24 – 26)

A great challenge for me personally is to structure my schedule so that I daily get quality time with the Lord Jesus as my first priority. Then, as I make my way through the day to prayerfully and intentionally look for ways to “winsomely” engage and embrace folks with a kind word of encouragement; listen to them with compassion, and seek ways to make their lives a bit better. In a word, love them. Recently I was struck by the story of Jesus reaching out and touching a leper (Lk. 5:12 – 15). This is precisely what I must do with my lost, spiritually leprous friends.

  • Verbalize and live the gospel :

Verbalize the gospel : That is, effectual laborers have carefully thought through the essence of the gospel, and how to clearly and graciously articulate it in a way that it is understood – and hopefully embraced. Peter instructed us to “ always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope that [we] have. But do this with gentleness and respect ” (I Pet. 3:15b).

Live the gospel : Paul informed the Corinthians, “You yourselves are our letter…known and read by everybody” (2 Cor. 3:2,a,c). Our cynical world is starved for authenticity. God help us that our lives are the very embodiment of the gospel of Christ to the lost among us. (See Lk. 17:1, 2)

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

R. Dwight Hill

1The core concepts in this six part series are derived from a bulletin from the U. S. Director of the Navigator, March, 2013

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

ARE YOU AN EFFECTUAL LABORER FOR CHRIST ? (Part 2 of 6) 1

Effectual laborers walk with God and possess a passion to :

  • Know Jesus Christ :

– By nourishing themselves spiritually from the Word of God. (See Psa. 19; 119)

– By engaging in meaningful prayer. (See Matt. 6:6, 9-13; 7:7; Lk. 18:1)

– By choosing to believe and appropriate the promises of God. (See Heb. 6:12; 2 Pet. 1:3,4)

  • Love Jesus Christ :

– By obeying God’s word: ” If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn. 14:21). (See Dt. 11:13; 30:6-8; I Jn. 5:3)

– By loving others: “…If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (I Jn. 4:12b). (See Jn. 15:13; 1 Jn. 4:7-11)

  • Become like Jesus Christ :

– By growing into his likeness: “ …Reach[ing] unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and becom[ing] mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). (See Phil. 3:7-14; 2 Pet. 3:18; 1 Jn. 2:6)

– By acquiring his mind: “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 2:5 – ASV). (See 1 Cor. 2:16; Phil. 2:6-8)

QUESTION : In light of eternity, are you willing to do the hard work necessary to become an effective laborer for His Kingdom and glory?

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

R. Dwight Hill

1The core concepts in this six part series are derived from a bulletin from the U. S. Director of the Navigator, March, 2013

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ARE YOU AN EFFECTUAL LABORER FOR CHRIST ? (Part 1 of 6)

That is, are you significantly engaged in the lives of those God has placed in your life because you care about their eternal destiny? I’m talking about neighbors whose lives are in chaos; business and professional associates who are successful in the eyes of their peers but are hopelessly lost spiritually; family members who have lost hope as their lives descend into despair. In a word, are you involved in the lives of those who are separated “ from Christ…without hope and without God…?” (Eph. 2:12b).

Or are you blithely cruising along, benignly indifferent to the pain, despair and spiritual ignorance that surrounds you? If the answer is “yes,” you are not in fact a laborer for Christ among the people for whom he died. By your inaction you are signaling the fact that you could care less.

About 30 years ago, Lorne Sanny, the Director of the Navigators, stated with deep angst that most of the Organization’s trained laborers were not “laboring.” The Navigators had gone back and researched people whom they had trained in past years, and were now in the working world, raising families, advancing their careers, etc. Somehow, over that span of time they had settled down into life and had lost the passion, the vision and the spiritual edge they once possessed. Inch by inch, it seems, they had grown inward and insulated from their lost world, happily self-absorbed and spiritually lukewarm. (See Rev. 3:15-19)

The fact is that a true laborer for Christ is a rare person indeed, as our churches are filled with nice people who are sterile spiritually. Few possess the heart, the vision and the knowhow to be used of God to win and disciple others. Little wonder that Jesus made the tragic observation, that “… the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few…” (Matt. 9:37b)

If it is your heart’s desire to be meaningfully engaged as an effective laborer for Christ, carefully read the next five “Facts” that will explore in detail five characteristics of effectual laborers for God:

  • They walk with God . They have a passion to know, love, and become like Jesus.
  • They live among the lost , fruitfully engaging people wherever they are.
  • They know and live the Scriptures. They apply the truth openly to all of life.
  • They live with a generational mindset reproducing the character of Jesus in others.
  • They are people experiencing community , engaging the Body of Christ in His work. 1

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

R. Dwight Hill

1These five characteristics were drawn from a memo from Doug Nuenke, the U. S. Director of the Navigators, March, 2013. Used by permission.