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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, 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

AM I READING YOUR MAIL ? (Part 2 of 2)

In last week’s “Facts” I mentioned that I would lay out a simple, but effective way to spend daily time with the Lord Jesus:

Begin your time with the Lord, thanking him for his presence and for his love. Praise him for his faithfulness.

Choose a short passage of Scripture to read and meditate on. Don’t take a whole chapter. As you prayerfully meditate your way through the passage, ask God to speak to your heart and to reveal the Lord Jesus to you. Concentrate at going slowly and deeply with less material. For example, you could meditate your way through Psalm 23.

From verse 1: “The Lord is my shepherd.” Stop to ponder what it means to place yourself under his Lordship. Ask the question as to what Lordship means. Jot down your thoughts and pray them into your life.

I would then ask the question, “What is the correlation between “Lord” and “Shepherd?” When I think of a shepherd, I picture his sovereign love, and self-sacrificing care of me. I derive comfort from being one of his sheep. My mind turns to John 10 and Jesus’ description of the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, etc. I might jot down my observations from John 10 on his shepherding of me; then pause, thanking him for what I have observed about the sheep – shepherd relationship. I might ask myself the question, “Can Jesus be my shepherd if I do not allow him to be my Lord?”

Psalm 23:1 goes on, “I shall not be in want.” As I ponder this statement, I ask myself why I am so often concerned as to whether God will meet my material needs? Could the answer be it is because I am not surrendering to his Lordship as my Shepherd? Thus, I am making it difficult for him to fulfill his promise to meet my needs? I might spend some time recording my fears and disbelief as it relates to his provision and then re-committing that area of my life to him.

I then continue to prayerfully work my way through the rest of the Psalm, one word or phrase at a time, jotting down my observations, and possible applications, and praying over my discoveries.

When I am finished meditating through the Psalm, I might go back over my material and pose questions next to each of my observations. For example, I might ask:

Have I totally surrendered my life to the Lordship of Christ?

Am I willing to choose to trust my Shepherd, to provide for my material needs? Etc., etc.

After each question, I pause and listen for him to speak to me.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

AM I READING YOUR MAIL ? (Part 1 of 2)

Tell me, are you overextended by the fast paced demands of work? How are you doing in keeping up with the high geared social life demanded by your profession? How well are you dealing with the incessant demands to keep current in your field and with the warp speed changes in technology? Do you ever feel alone and fragmented? Have you been seduced to worshiping at the altar of self-advancement, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency? If at times you feel you are coming apart at the seams, could it be that you have bought into the prevalent values of individualism, materialism and upward mobility? (I won’t even ask how you are doing in balancing all of the above with meeting the needs of your family for quality and quantity time with you.)

Saint Paul expressed his concern for the urbane, sophisticated Corinthians in stating, “ I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent” (2 Cor. 11:3). So, who is winning this epic battle for spiritual survival? You or Satan?

What to do? Where does one start to re-center and re-build? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Grab your calendar and block off some unrushed time in the near future to be alone with God to deliberate your way through the following questions and Scriptures. Jot down your findings and pray them into your life.

  • Who is God ? Isaiah 40.
  • Who is Jesus ? John 1:1-5; Colossians1:15-20; John18 – 20
  • Who am I ? Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:1-10; 3:10-19
  • What is my God-given purpose in life ? Matthew 22:37-39;25:31-45; 28:18-20; I Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; Luke 10:25-37

2. Ask the following questions of yourself:

Am I regularly taking a Sabbath Rest? Study Hebrews 4:1-13.

How am I doing on my time alone with God? What specific changes do I need to make to insure this is a regular priority that is truly connecting me to Jesus Christ? (In next week’s “Facts” I will lay out a simple but effective method of how to make that time alone with God come alive.)

What prudent steps am I taking to stay physically fit? For example, evaluate the quality and quantity of your food intake. Am I controlling my weight? Am I getting adequate rest? If, in fact our body is the temple of the living God, should we not carefully steward its care (I Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19; 9:24-27)? Can we ignore the inseparable link between the physical and the spiritual aspects of our life? Am I allowing myself to engage in restorative and fun-filled recreation, coupled with a scheduled, disciplined physical fitness program?

CONCLUSION : The stark reality is that in our modern helter-skelter world of unparalleled pressure, opportunities and seductions, Satan is out to destroy us (Jn. 10:10; I Pet. 5:8). To combat him, let’s take Jesus admonition to heart to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16b). Or as Paul challenged us, “Let us be Christ’s men from head to foot, and give no chances to the flesh to have its fling” (Rom. 13:14 – Phil. Trans).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

HERE IS A SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE WAY TO GET FOLKS DEEPER INTO THE WORD OF GOD :

Many believers never move beyond topical and question centered bible studies. Consequently they never matriculate from the milk of the word to the meat of the word of God:

You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others, but instead you have dropped back to the place where you need someone to teach you all over again the very first principles in God’s Word. You are like babies who can drink only milk, not old enough for solid food. And when a person is still living on milk it shows he isn’t very far along in the Christian life, and doesn’t know much about the difference between right and wrong. He is still a baby Christian! You will never be able to eat solid spiritual food and understand the deeper things of God’s Word until you become better Christians and learn right from wrong by practicing doing right” (Heb. 5:12-14)

Ask the following questions concerning the above passage : (Observe my answers to the questions – as an example as to how a person might respond to the questions.)

  • What spoke to your heart about the passage? Explain: “I am convicted that after all these years I am still a baby Christian; embarrassingly shallow in God’s word.”

  • What did you not like or find difficult about the passage ? “I don’t like the fact that I am unable to effectively teach others. It is of my own doing; probably my lack of hunger for God’s word, and my lack of discipline.”

  • What does the passage say about man ? “Believers fall into two categories: (1) Milk fed babies, unable to discern right from wrong”, and (2) Mature believers who feed on the meat of God’s word and discern right from wrong.”
  • What does the passage say about God ? “Nothing.”
  • What are you going to do about what you have learned ? “I will commit to meditating and studying on God’s word a minimum of 20 minutes each morning. My desire is that my appetite and capacity for God’s word will increase with time.”
  • Who are you going to teach this to this week ? “George”

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

R. Dwight Hill

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

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

In the previous five “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. Effectual laborers also live with a generational mindset, reproducing the character of Jesus in others, thus fostering the natural expansion of the Gospel.

Effectual laborers are people experiencing community , engaging the Body of Christ in His work. Think back to the most spiritually formative period of your life. Doubtless, you will recall fond memories of a vital, life-giving, community of loving believers who in communion shared their joys and sorrows, and the deepest longings of their hearts. In that vital life-giving community you grew spiritually like a weed.

Effectual laborers need to explore how they can best bring people to “attaining…the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13b). Certainly part of the answer lies in enveloping their fruit in a body of believers who embrace the three concepts of fellowship (koinonia):

1) Sharing: Picture the difference between billiard balls bouncing off of each other compared with grapes that are crushed together, blending into oneness. In healthy expressions of Christ’s body disciples co-mingle together, generously and vulnerably sharing their lives. Acts 2 records the first New Testament expression of a sharing Christian community: “ All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere heart…praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people…” (vss. 42, 44, 45,46b, 47a)

2) Relationships: Genuine biblical fellowship creates a mutual bond among Christ’s followers that overrides pride and individualism, and fulfills our yearning for a sense of belonging and companionship. Koinonia is always active, rather than passive in meaningful and purposeful interdependent friendships among the body of believers. For example, “… Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…Let us encourage one another… (Heb.10:24,25 – Selected)

3) Community: A group of believers who embody a common unity of purpose and interests, closely intertwined in seeking to overcome brokenness and divisiveness in the process of their growth toward wholeness and spiritual maturity. I Corinthians 12- 14 depict the community of believers as a body that is healthily diverse, yet interdependent in building each other up in love for the common good. In the New Testament there are at least 23 community focused “one another” commands that powerfully convey the necessity of believers doing life together. (See Rom. 13:8; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 16; Gal. 5:26; Eph. 4:32; 5:19; Col. 3:9, 13, 16; 1 Thes. 4:9, 18; 5:11; Heb. 10:24, 25; Jms. 4:11; 5:9; I Pet. 1:22; 4:9; 5:14; 1 Jn. 4:7, 11, 12; 2 Jn.1:5)

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

R. Dwight Hill

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

ARE YOU AN EFFECTUAL LABORER FOR CHRIST ? (Part 5 of 6) 1

In the previous three “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:

Effectual laborers also live with a generational mindset , reproducing the character of Jesus in others :

Intentional discipleship, coupled with a biblically based Christian community fosters the natural expansion of the Gospel. By community we mean a body of believers unified around the common cause of “Knowing Christ and making him known,” who are interconnected and interdependent, doing life together by loving one another deeply and helping each other flourish. (See Isa. 58:6; Rom. 15:1; I Cor. 12 – 14; Gal. 5:13, 14; 6:2; Col. 3:12-14)

Spiritually healthy communities of believers co-labor with God in spawning gospel movements among people groups resulting in generational fruitfulness. Effectual laborers, espousing and living out the Gospel in community possess the potential of exponentially multiplying their influence.

Below are a few factors that could restrict the spontaneous expansion of the gospel:

The absence of visionary leaders.

Losing sight of the fact that we are laborers in the Father’s field, not ours.

Possessing a sectarian rather than a kingdom mindset.

Fostering a competitive attitude toward other Christian entities.

Allowing function to follow form rather than the other way around.

Cultivating a culture of fear and legalism rather than a culture of faith and freedom.

Practicing heavy top down leadership that squelches creativity and healthy risk taking.

QUESTION : Are you an effectual laborer who has chosen to be part of this incredible global movement? Or are you party to those who restrict the gospel’s expansion?

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

R. Dwight Hill

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