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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for September, 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WHEN GOD AND LIFE MAKE NO SENSE

In meditating through the story of Lazarus’s death and resurrection (Jn. 11), several poignant lessons can be learned that help to explain the mysterious workings of God that often make no sense in this life:

  • We are expendable for the glory of God : “But when Jesus heard about [Lazarus’s death] he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this’ ” (vs. 4).

  • We are presumptuous in attempting to advise or second-guess God’s method of operation: “…[Jesus] said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” “But Rabbi,” the [disciples] said, “a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there again?” ‘Roll the stone aside,’ Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister protested, ‘Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible ’” (vss. 7, 8,12, 39)
  • God operates on His timetable, not ours: So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days…And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him…When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days…Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died ’ (vss. 5,6,15, 17, 21).
  • Jesus’ strategy boggles our “rational” thinking: But some of them said, ‘This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying? ’” (vs.37)

“’… My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8b).

CONCLUSION : One of our greatest problems in life is our refusal to allow God to transform our minds to conform to his. (Rom. 12:2) Until we do, we will constantly waffle between viewing life through a temporal or an eternal lens. “ 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. 1:8 – Phil. Trans.)

QUESTION : On which side of the temporal, eternal ledger are you choosing to live?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

CAN WE REALLY KNOW THE SPIRIITUAL CONDITION OF OUR HEART ? (Part 2 of 2)

The Scriptures instruct us to examine ourselves to see if we are holding to the faith. (2 Cor. 13:5) In last week’s “Facts” we introduced two questions posed by A. W. Tozer:

1. What do we want the most?

2. How do we use our money?

Following are three more questions A. W. Tozer poses in helping us evaluate the condition of our heart :1

3. What do we do with our leisure time ? My generation’s focus, for the most part, was primarily on living a life of quality. Becoming a person of stature. Today, it seems, our primary focus in life is on the quest for inner fulfillment through experiencing a pleasure filled life. There is no doubt that recreation [re-creation?] is a must if we are to keep body, mind and soul together. Hebrews four talks about a Sabbath rest. In a word, rejuvenating our mind, soul, and body. The question is, do we at least use some of our discretionary free time to invite our lost friends over for a BBQ with a view toward eventually bringing them to the Lord Jesus? Are we somehow engaged in helping the less fortunate among us? (Jms. 1:26; 2:14-26; I Jn. 3:16, 17) Or is our leisure time expended primarily on our selfish pursuits for our indulgence and fulfillment? (See Ecc. 2:1-11; 5:8-20)

4. Who and what do we most admire ? Well, if it’s the folks in “People Magazine” we are in deep doo doo. Tell me, do you admire the powerful and beautiful people; the top athletes and business icons above the little recognized folks who are living sacrificially for the cross of Christ? You know, those unsung heroes of the faith who are bringing the Gospel to the lost in the spiritual ghettos of the world? Or those in the business world who are operating with integrity at great personal cost. Are our heroes that little noticed janitor at our church who quietly cleans up our mess as an act of worship? Or the truck drivers who are reaching out to their fellow truckers? Or the folks volunteering at your local soup kitchen to bring the love of Christ to the under belly of society? (See Lam. 1:12; Matt. 25:31-46; Jn. 4:34,35; Rom. 10:13-15)

5. What do we laugh at ?

  • Ourselves?
  • The future? (Pro. 31:25)
  • Others’ misfortune?
  • Denigrating humor?

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 The Pursuit of God – A. W. Tozer, Wing Spread Publishers, 1995, Pg 37;

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

CAN WE REALLY KNOW THE SPIRIITUAL CONDITION OF OUR HEART ? (Part #1 of #2)

The Scriptures instruct us to examine ourselves to see if we are holding to the faith. (2 Cor. 13:5) But we have a serious problem: An exceedingly fraudulent heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?… The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters….“ (Jer. 17:9; Pro. 20:5a) James informs us that we can be self-deceived through our failure to apply God’s word to our heart. (Jms. 1:22) (See 2 Tim. 3:13).

Following are two of five questions posed by A. W. Tozer to help us evaluate the condition of our heart : 1

1. What do we want the most ? We might better ask, “What captivates our thinking and our passions?” That is, what do we think about when we lay our head on the pillow at night, and what grabs our mind in our waking moments the next morning? Money? Sex? Power? The desire for respect, influence and security? The fear of rejection or our insatiable need to be loved? Or, are we captivated by our union and communion with Christ? Are we arrested by our deep concern for our lost friends and neighbors? Are we grieved over the spiritual direction of our country; the reality of untold billions around the world who know nothing of the Lord Jesus? Do we care one iota over the reeking, grinding poverty in our inner cities and across the globe? (See Lam. 1:12; Jn. 4:35, 36)

2. How do we use our money ? Is it all about self-indulgence, materialism and upward mobility? Larger houses and gold plated vacations? Is it about possessing the latest and best electronic gadgets? Jesus warned us about “… the the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things [that] come in and choke the word, making [us] unfruitful” (Mk. 4:19). How right on was King Solomon in stating, “Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man” (Pro. 27:20). Jesus, in effect said, “If you want to know a person’s first love, look at his check book and bank account, because, ‘ no one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’” (Matt. 6:24, 21).

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 The Pursuit of God – A. W. Tozer, Wing Spread Publishers, 1995, Pg 37;

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

DON’T ASK WHAT SHOULD I DO, BUT WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

People are forever asking, “What is the will of God for my life? What should I do? How can I know what it is?” Inferred in the questioning is the false belief that God’s will is mysterious, difficult to discern, and is probably somewhere else other than where I am. Should I go to Africa and work in an orphanage, or go with YWAM into Detroit’s inner city? Paul was called to Macedonia and Jonah to Nineveh. Where am I called ?”

The questioning is often prompted out of a parched and shallow relationship with God. Often is it asked out of a heart that longs for more of God. “ If only I can find the will of God I will feel closer to God. I’ll be fulfilled.”

Sadly, our quest is all about us: Our fulfillment. Our finding purpose in our lives. Little, if any passion is expressed toward advancing the Kingdom and the Glory of God. Rather, it is about filling the emptiness of my vacuous spiritual existence. The Savior informed us of the path to fulfillment in stating,

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Lk. 9:23, 24)

Management guru, Peter Drucker instructs folks in the market place: “Don’t ask what should I do, but what needs to be done.” Similarly, Jesus, in a moment of angst over his disciples’ self-focused existence, chided them in stating, “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (Jn. 4:35b).

Good grief! Let us open our eyes to the troubled world surrounding us and see the eons of families that are disintegrating before our eyes, the untold numbers of people addicted to drugs, sleeping around, or living on the edge economically. Only God knows the untold millions who are one step away from giving up on life. Do we even see the massive blocks of our Christian population who are hooked on pornography and other sins of the flesh? Our churches are heavily populated with men and women who are confused, spiritually defeated, and totally unaware that there is an abundant life available to them in Christ; a life of fruitful fulfillment and victory.

And we are asking, “What is the will of God”? You have got to be kidding!

Here it is in a nutshell : If anyone…sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? …Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins…” (I Jms.. 3:17b; Jas. 4:17). (See Matt. 25:35-46; Lk. 16:19-31)

It was recorded of Jesus that he “went around doing good” (Act. 10:38). Surely we can do that! And that, in simplest terms, is at least the beginning step in finding and living out the will of God.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

ON BELITTLING OTHERS

Yesterday, Brad and I had coffee together enjoying delicious fellowship on things spiritual. Brad was career military and did it with brilliance. Built like a Sherman tank; tough and rugged, coupled with a tender heart – softened by years of walking with the Lord Jesus.

As we left the coffee shop we encountered a mutual friend who has floundered a bit in recent years, struggling as a minister to effectively influence men for Christ. The impression conveyed is one of sincerity, coupled with foggy thinking as to how to accomplish the mission. People are polite to him but unmoved.

In muted tones Brad made a couple of humorous, disparaging remarks about our mutual friend, and before I knew it, I chimed in. We had a laugh and parted without giving it a second thought.

This morning in my reading of the Scriptures I came across Proverbs 14:21 (NLT): “It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor…”

BAMM!! I was stopped in my tracks. What had Brad and I done to this brother in Christ? We had spoken contemptuously and disparagingly of this good man.

We had done exactly as the proud Pharisee in the temple: “ The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men…even like this tax collector” (Lk. 18:11).

Brad, the Pharisee and I were smug, self-righteous, judgmental and belittling.

The Scriptures give no wiggle room on this one: “ You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Rom. 2:1). (See Psa. 41:1, 2; Matt. 7:1, 2; Rom. 15:1)

What Christ was looking for in us in our response to this brother was compassion and mercy. Not judgment: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk. 6:36).

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

R. Dwight Hill