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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for November, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

THERE IS ONLY ONE PERSON WHO CAN LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE, AND IT’S NOT YOU !

The promise of Jesus to give us “a rich and satisfying life” is at best an elusive dream for most believers. (Jn. 10:10b – NLT) The reality is that most professed followers of Christ are mired in chronic defeat and joyless despair as echoed so powerfully by Paul, I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate…I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Rom. 7:15, 18, 19 – NLT). Peter serves as exhibit A. In his pride:

He grudgingly accommodates Jesus’ suggestion to recast his nets, only to have his nets tear from the abundant catch. (Lk. 5:4-11)

He lectures Jesus on God’s will for his life, only to be rebuked as “Satan.” (Matt. 16:21-28)

He superciliously informs Jesus that he, unlike the other disciples, will in fact not deny him, only to be crushed by his spectacular cowardice. (Mk. 14:22-31)

Peter’s problem, like ours, is that we, in our unbroken pride actually have the audacity to think that with enough discipline, self-determination, prayer, and self-denial, can gain victory over our sin. Not so says Jesus: “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Lk. 18:27b).

Andrew Murray reminds us that “ the cause of the weakness of your Christian life is that you want to work it out partly, and to let God help you. And that cannot be. You must come to be utterly helpless, to let God work…” 1

As Annie Flint – a woman severely afflicted for 30 years with arthritis penned, “ When we have exhausted our store of endurance; when our strength has failed ere the day is half done; when we reach the end of our hoarded resources, our Fathers full giving is only begun.”

QUESTION : Have you come to the abject end of yourself, and in deep repentance relinquished your pride? It is only then that you and I will begin to experience His grace and sufficiency; His power and His victory over our sin.

SUGGESTION : If these truths strike a chord in your heart, you may want to prayerfully work your way through the following Scriptures:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose…I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being……That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God…to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 2:13; Eph. 3:16b, 19b, 20b).

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 Humility and Absolute Surrender”Andrew Murray – Hendrickson Publishers, 2005, pg 113

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WHAT TO DO IN A SHAKY AND CRUMBLING WORLD :

As I write, we are observing a world wobbling on its shaky foundation. Families are crumbling, and values from our Country’s inception are disintegrating before our eyes. What to do?

Well, one thing that is unchanging is our faithful God. This I know from 62 years of personal experience in walking with Him. And I know it from the Scriptures:

  • God can be trusted : “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?…Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Num. 23:19; Deut 7:9). (See Ex.34:6, 7; Psa. 100:5)
  • God’s love is unchanging : I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness…Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Psa. 89:32, 33; Lam. 3:22,23).
  • God’s word is enduring : Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens…I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Psa. 119:89; Matt. 5:18).

 

  • God secures our eternal destiny : “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand…God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not” (Jn. 10:28, 29; Heb. 13:5b – Amp.). (See I Jn. 5:11-13)

A.W. Tozer, makes these profound observations concerning God’s faithfulness : 1

  • God being who He is cannot cease to be what He is . God cannot act out of character with Himself. He is at once faithful and immutable (unchanging). He cannot be compelled from without, but ever speaks and acts from within Himself by His own sovereign will as it pleases Him. Upon God’s faithfulness rests our whole hope of future blessing.
  • Only as He is faithful will His covenants stand and His promise be honored . Only as we have complete assurance that He is faithful will we live in peace and look forward with assurance to the life to come.

CONCLUSION : Tozer’s word of encouragement for the weary soul : The tempted, the anxious, the fearful, the discouraged may all find new hope and good cheer in the knowledge that our heavenly Father is faithful. He will ever be true to His pledged word. The hard-pressed sons of the covenant may be sure that He will never remove His loving-kindness from them nor suffer His faithfulness to fail.

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

R. Dwight Hill

1A. W. Tozer,The Knowledge of the Holy– Harper and Row, Publishers, 1961,pages 78 – 85

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

IF YOU EVER DOUBTED THAT YOU CAN EXPERIENCE VICTORY, READ THIS :

Here is some of the best news you will ever read in the Bible :

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” (2 Pet. 1: 3,4 – NLT).

Folks, if we can grasp what 2 Peter 1:3,4 is telling us and choose to appropriate it into our lives, we will live larger, more joyful and victorious lives than we could ever have imagined! It’s the end of “woe is me” Christianity.

Here’s my paraphrase of the passage:

God, by his power, and by our getting to know Him, has given us all that we need for living a godly life. It was because of his excellence and glory that He called us to himself and gave us great and precious promises that enable us to (1) share in his divine nature, and (2) escape the corruption in the world.

This power He has promised us refers to the past, present and future, ordained from all eternity past. It is ever operative in the present, and will continue throughout all eternity. 1 This power is bestowed on us to enable us to live our lives in their intended fullness, as we increasingly take on His divine nature and grow in our knowledge of Him. Talk about His power operative in our lives, read this:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…We are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you ” (Eph. 3:20; 2 Cor. 13:4b). (See Rom. 1:3; 1 Cor. 6:14)

If you ever doubted the fact that we can have victory in our lives, take a gander that this:

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after anotherFor if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ…In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (Jn. 1:16a – NLT; Rom. 5:17; 8:37; 2 Cor. 9:8). (See Psa. 84:11; Rom. 8:32; 2 Cor. 1:20-22)

If you want to delve further into His divine promises that pertain to innumerable areas of our lives, check out these Scriptures:2 Cor. 7:1; Rom. 8:9-13;John 11:25;1 Cor. 15:21-23;Acts 2:33; Eph. 1:13;John 10:10; Rom. 5:15,20; Eph. 1:7;Ps. 132:16; Gal. 5:22;Ps. 18:32; Isa. 40:31;John 16:13; Isa. 41:10,13-14; Ps. 32:8;John 14:26; Prov. 2:6-8; Eph. 1:17-18; James 1:5 ; 3:17; John 14:1-3;2 Peter 3:13; 1 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12.

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 The word “grant” is a present, perfect, participle, meaning that in the past, with continuing results in the present, God permanently bestowed His power on believers.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

WHO IS REALLY RUNNING YOUR MINISTRY?

I am observing a ministry that seems stalled. Waffling. Perhaps even dead in the water. Its failure is not for lack of sincerity, effort, or planning. Somehow, I get the impression that the leadership is running the ministry as you would a business: Mechanical. Cerebral. Calculating. The mystical power and presence of God seems to be absent, giving the impression that they are operating on spiritual fumes.

The questions that loom in my mind are: “Are these folks on their faces before God? Or are they stretched so thin that there is little time for unrushed meditation and prayer? Are they proactively creating space in their lives for silence and solitude before God that evidences itself in a deep and rich secret inner life with Christ? Or are their spiritual lives reflective of the dry bones of Ezekiel 37? Are their efforts in ministry characterized by a quiet, measured pace? Or by flesh driven dogged determination, or frenetic and disparate busyness? Is fruit naturally happening because they are personally experiencing the Vine-Branch relationship of John 15? Or is the ministry a forced, white knuckle affair?”

One reason I am wondering is because I am not seeing the natural expansion of the gospel, and fresh growth occurring through its leaders and members. So, what is missing? Jesus and the Book of Acts give us a clue by modeling biblical patterns for birthing God-ordained ministries:

  • Jesus frequently stole away to be alone with the Father to receive His marching orders:“I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me” (Jn. 8:28). Thus He could legitimately claim, “… I always do what pleases [the Father]” (Jn. 8:29). (See Jn. 5:19b, 30; 12:49, 50; 14:10) (See also Mk. 1:35; 6:46; Lk. 5:15, 16; 6:12; 22:39-46; Jn. 17)
  • The Book of Acts illustrates the critical role of prayer and the superintendence of the Holy Spirit in directing the ministry: “ While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’” (Act. 13:2). (See Act. 6:4; 10:9-22; 13:2; 16:6, 7; 22:21)

CONCLUSION : True ministry occurs when we are stripped of self-directed efforts that are replaced by total reliance on the Holy Spirit’s central role:

  • “When in His is mercy God leads a soul in the higher paths of sanctification, He begins by stripping it of all self-confidence, and to this end He allows our own schemes to fail, our judgment to mislead us. We grope and totter and make countless mistakes until we learn to mistrust ourselves and to put all our confidence in Him.” (Jean Nicholas Grou)
  • “If we live by the Holy Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25 – Amp.).

QUESTION : So, who is really energizing and directing your ministry? You or the Holy Spirit?

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

R. Dwight Hill