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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, 2002

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

GOD RESPONDS TO OUR PRAYERS IN ONE OF FOUR WAYS:+

 

#1 No – Your request is not in Gods will.

After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became illDavid pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the groundHe answered, While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child liveBut now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (I Sam.2:15,16,22,23)

#2 Slow – Your request is not in Gods will at this time.

 

So the sisters sent word to Jesus, Lord, the one you love is sick.Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more daysSo then he told them plainly, Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four daysWhen he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, Lazarus, come out! The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, Take off the grave clothes and let him go." (Jn 11:3, 6, 14, 15, 17, 43, 44)

#3 Grow – Your motives are wrong.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (Jms. 4:3)

#4 Go – Your request, timing, and spiritual condition are okayYes!

Elijahprayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (Jms. 5:17b-19)

And from Romans 8:26-29 we know four truths about prayer:

#1 The Holy Spirit helps us to know what and how to pray (verse 26)

 

#2 The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf (verse 26)

 

#3 God hears our hearts more than the words in prayer (verse 27)

 

#4 Prayer is always answered (verses 28-29), though not always according to our agenda.

 

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. 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, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

 

+Adapted from Leading Life Changing Small Groups by Bill Donahue, Zondervan Press, pages 57, 58

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

EIGHT QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN FACING ETHICAL DECISIONS:+

#1 IS IT PERMISSIBLE? (If there is a clear Biblical command against it, then it is not permissible)

The man who says, I know him, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love (1 Jn 2:4; Gal 5:13)

 

#2 WILL IT LEAD TO PEACE AND MUTUAL EDIFICATION?

 

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edificationIf it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Rom.14:19; 12:18)

 

#3 WILL IT BUILD UP OTHER PEOPLE?

 

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of othersEach of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (I Cor 10:24; Rom 15:2)

 

#4 IS IT PROFITABLE (BENEFICIAL)?

" All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

(I Cor.10:23 – NASB)

#5 IS IT CONSTRUCTIVE?

 

Lovelooks for a way of being constructiveLove builds up. (I Cor. 13:4b Phillips; 1 Cor. 8:1b)

#6 DOES IT HAVE THE GOOD OF OTHERS AT HEART?

 

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of othersDo 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. (1 Cor.10:24; Phil. 2:3,4)

#7 WILL IT CAUSE OTHERS TO STUMBLE?

 

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God– even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved (1 Cor. 10:32,33) (See I Cor.8:9; Rom.14:13)

#8 DOES IT GLORIFY GOD?

 

Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor.10:31)

+Adapted from [email protected], September/October, 1999, page 29

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

DO YOU STILL HAVE THE JOYBELLS RINGING IN YOUR HEART?

 

 

I just got off the phone with Bob Foster. Bob, age 80, is a man who has walked with God for over six decades, and is the very epitome of a gracious Christian gentleman.

Foster and his clan own and operate Lost Valley Ranch, a large cattle spread in Colorado, (USA) that caters to high end vacationers. For decades they have been reaching out to folks outside the pale of Christianity in the context of ranching.

The last time I saw Bob was three years ago in Singapore at one of the hotels. He and his wife Miriam were ministering through Asia. Bob did not know I was in the hotel when I spotted him across the dining hall tenderly spoon-feeding Miriam in her wheel chair. You see, Miriam was in an advanced stage of Alzheimers disease.

Before concluding our conversation over the phone, I asked, Bob, I am in my mid-60s You are 80. What advice do you have for me? Without hesitation, he quoted Acts 20:24,

I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Dwight, when Paul uttered those words, he was facing certain imprisonment and probable death. Considering his life to be expendable for the Gospel, Paul expressed two concerns,

#1 To finish his race with joy.

#2 To complete the task, (or ministry) the Lord Jesus had given him.

Dwight, as I observe most of my peers, afflicted in some cases with physical problems, family challenges, etc., few of them still have the joy. And many of them are no longer involved in ministering to others. Dwight! Be expendable for God! Keep the joy and keep on ministering to people!

Imagine, 80 years old. Joyful. Gracious. Optimistic about the future. Responding to the needs of others. I am reminded of a portion of Robert Brownings poem, Rabbi Ben Ezra,

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand who saith, A whole I planned, youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid.

QUESTION: Do you still have the joybells ringing in your heart? Or are you dry, angry, disengaged, disappointed, and critical of others? Are you continuing to sacrifice your life for people in the Name of Christ? That is how we will fulfill Gods intention for us to remain soft and supple, filled with joy, hopeful of the future, and still bearing fruit, whatever our circumstances,

the righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming The Lord is upright; he is the Rock (Psa. 90:12-15a)

 

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

MORE QUESTIONS COUPLES CAN ASK EACH OTHER TO HELP IMPROVE THEIR MARRIAGE:

 

Again, a word of caution: As you proceed through these questions with each other, keep in mind that the tongue has the power of life and death (Pro.18:21) So choose and use your words carefully!

What do you most want right now in our marriage? What three areas of your life need the most attention from me right now?

What room in my life do you have the hardest time getting into? Why is that?

In what ways do we keep score?

What do you have the hardest time asking me for (or about) sexually? Why is this difficult or uncomfortable for you?

What in our marriage must be torn down before we can build something new in its place?

When is physical affection most satisfying for you? When is it least welcome?

When we argue, do you usually think I am more interested in winning or understanding? What do I do that makes you think this?

When do you have the hardest time saying, I love you? When do you have the hardest time saying, Im sorry.?

What are the words you most regret saying to me? What are the words you most value hearing from me? Why?

In what ways does your happiness depend on changes I need to make?

If you were to write one golden rule for a happy, healthy marriage, what would this rule be?

In what ways are we a perfect match? In what ways do our differences create friction? What can we do to capitalize on our differences so they enhance our marriage?

What other couples marriage do you most admire? Why? What is it about their relationship you wish we had more of in ours?

E. Stanley Jones once said, O Christ, do not give me tasks equal to my powers, but give me powers equal to my tasks, for I want to be stretched by things too great for me. Where do you want to be stretched for greatness in your personal life? In our marriage?

Do you ever feel that no matter what you do in our marriage, it is never good enough for you? For me? If so, explain why you feel that way.

+Questions drawn from 201 Great Questions for Married Couples Jerry D. Jones, NavPress