Have you ever noticed that when you take a big step of faith, maybe it's addressing an addiction, or maybe it's starting a ministry, or maybe it's saying, I'm going to start reading the Bible on a regular basis, everything falls apart at the seams. It seems like when we really get committed and we take that step toward exactly what God wants us to do, it often gets worse instead of better. If you want to understand why and learn how to endure, that's today.
Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Drouy, and the mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. We're nearing the end of our series, Holy Ambition, for the past several programs, Chip's been revealing six important conditions we have to embrace in order to turn our God-shaped dreams into a reality.
Now in just a minute, he'll highlight the final condition, growing a courageous soul. But before we begin, let me encourage you to use Chip's message notes while you listen. They'll really help you get the most out of what you're about to hear.
Download them under the broadcasts tab at livingontheedge.org, tap listeners, tap fill in notes. Well, with that, let's join Chip for his talk from Nehemiah chapter four. God wants to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. It's not about being smarter than you are.
It's not about knowing more than you probably know. But it's about having a dislocated heart, right, a broken spirit. It's about having a time where you take a radical step of faith.
It's developing a strategic plan. You need to discover where on the wall of God's Kingdom you make a personal commitment, not an intellectual commitment, not an emotional commitment, not a when it's nice and not raining it, but a commitment that says, God, I will do what you show me to do. And I know it might get hard, but when it gets hard, I will be faithful by your grace. And I have a concern, because I'm having conversations and emails from people that God is beginning to germinate multiple holy ambitions.
And for some it's for kids, and I talk with a guy that's talking about some things overseas and some people, others it's in business, and others it's with women. And here's what I know. If you don't understand what the last step is, having a courageous soul, you might take some very right steps.
And I mean get crushed. This is a serious one. You need to listen very carefully. This is a word for those of you that are stepping out, and you might actually find that you're a little discouraged, or you might even have struggled with a little depression lately, or maybe just kind of disillusioned like you don't quite get it. I really, you know, I thought I was on the right track, but boy, oh boy, it just seems like things are harder, and everything is uphill. I had made the deepest personal commitment of my life. I had done it God's way, and I was discouraged, depressed, and disillusioned.
It was the biggest ministry decision. I was a coach, a schoolteacher. I liked to coach. I liked to teach.
And through a number of events, everyone seemed to know it but me that God said, Chip, I want you to shift gears. I'd already gone to college. I went to graduate school.
I thought I was going to get to be a coach someday against Duke, or Indiana, or somewhere. And that was my dream, and it was like, oh no, now I've got to go back to school. And so, I put everything I had in a car, and we gave a car away, and we towed this little car and everything in a Ryder truck, and arrived in Dallas, Texas to go to seminary, and it was like starting all over.
It was a four-year graduate program. I had two little kids. I had a total of, I think, $750 total between us, Teresa and myself.
A missionary let me stay in his house for two months as we got ready, and we found a little government-subsidized apartment with a bunch of other people. And then I went to school with a carpool every day about 7 o'clock. I got up at 4.30 and did Greek from 5 until 7 and spent a little time with God. I went straight through, got home, caught the carpool.
Got home about 5 or 5.30, ate supper, played with my kids for about a half-hour. Then I went to work from about 6 until 11 at night and got up and did it again. And I did that year after year after year, and I did that three years. And money was tight, and the only way I could do it work-wise was do a straight commission job. And I did a straight commission job, and people wouldn't pass their physical. And I don't know how many months it was like, God, you know, I get $240 rent, and I've got $11 in the bank.
What's the deal? And I did that, and I did that. We would go to the grocery store. Actually, it was a co-op, and you put in 10 bucks, and you'd get all these fruits and vegetables.
And we'd go for two or three weeks, and I'd eat any meat or any carbohydrates, just fruits and vegetables of what we got at the farmer's market. And I remember one day sitting in class, and I was tired and discouraged and depressed and disillusioned, and I thought, you know, this was not my idea. And of all the things that I ever wanted to be, it certainly was not a pastor or a minister. And so, you know, I stepped out. I had this quote.
I didn't call it a holy ambition, but it was a holy ambition. I said I would do what you want me to do, and I'll tell you what, this stinks. I mean I'm tired, I'm broke, I'm discouraged.
I'm getting like four and five hours of sleep. Is this how thou treatest thy servants, God? Sometimes when I'm struggling I pray in King James. Here's what I want you to know. I had a common pitfall. Here's the thesis.
Here's what you need to understand. We unconsciously believe a myth, and the myth is if I do what God wants me to do, if I take a step, if I make a sacrifice, it can be with my time, my energy, my money, my future, a relationship. It's like, oh, I know this is a bad relationship. I obey God, and I broke up with Him, or I broke up with her, or I know my priorities are out of whack, and I start meeting with God, or I'm going to give Him the first portion of my income, or I'm going to get out of my comfort zone. I'm going to love people.
I'm going to go on a missions trip. When we do that kind of thing, unconsciously we think God is going to be so pleased. Well, He is, but we think He's going to be so pleased that life's going to be great. Life's going to be—shouldn't it be, right? You're obeying, right? I mean, you're just going to get high fives from the Lord and way to go, and He's going to answer all your prayers, and relationship issues are going to get better overnight.
That is a myth. The common pitfall, jot, if you will, false expectations. False expectations.
I was—I mean, literally, I had three years in, and I was having private conversations with myself, which is not good when you're talking to yourself a lot. And it was—I'm done. I mean, if this is what it means to follow you, if this is what you get for really obeying, for having a holy ambition, I am done.
You can have this. I'm out of here. What I didn't understand was our greatest personal commitments and spiritual victories are almost always followed by periods of intense opposition. Underline the word, intense opposition. Moses takes a big step of faith, intense opposition. Elijah, you know, has the big confrontation, and then later, intense opposition. Jesus sets His face and says, okay, He's baptized.
He's commissioned for ministry. And then what happens? Forty days in the desert with intense opposition.
You can take it to the bank, or at least you used to be able to take it to the bank. When you step out and take a step of faith that is the clearly defined will of God, it will usually get more difficult before it gets easier. And if you don't know that, then I've watched this happen.
You know what? I thought this was God's will, but it must not be, because look how hard it is, and how difficult it is, and all these things that have gone wrong. When I moved to Atlanta, it was probably—that was the second hardest ministry decision. We were in Santa Cruz as a pastor in a local church. I loved what I was doing. My family loved it.
My boys all found Santa Cruz girls, married them. And God made it clear, you're supposed to go to Atlanta. So, make this decision.
We go. My car on the way is in an ice storm. You know, I sent it there, one of those big tractor-trailer things, so it gets ruined. But I don't know it, because there's snow when it comes, and gasoline had poured through it. So, I had this car in the winter that I could only drive with the windows down.
My wife had two surgeries on her jaw that didn't work, so she was in intense pain. I won't go through it, but at one point when it got to number 11, we started keeping track. In the first 10 days, we had 23 things happen to the house that broke down.
One guy said, hey, this has never happened in my life. We cut through that line, that line, that line, so you don't have any water. You don't have any electricity.
And then, are you ready? I take over the job in 2002. It has a huge international component to it. And it takes millions and millions of dollars. So, does anybody remember what happened, like, in January of 2003, the dot bust?
So, all the major donors didn't have any money. So, all of a sudden, it's like, okay, now, I'm waking up in the middle of the night, and my wife is crying and sobbing into a pillow, because she's not real happy. Part physical, part emotional. Everything that could go wrong around me has. The move is just an absolute nightmare.
My daughter has been taken out of a school in the middle of high school. We don't have any money. And other than that, things are going well. Now, here's the difference. You know what my reaction this time was? Wow. I think God is really up to something. I think God must really have something significant beyond my wildest dreams for little O me who doesn't mean very much to get this level of opposition. And I would look back seven years later and see 100 countries, 90,000 teachers, 8 videos, and 5 books written in a season of time that I never dreamed could happen to an ordinary person like me, because the opposition told me I was on the right track.
Did I like it? No. Part of the opposition that's meant to pull you down, God uses to develop some character and some trust and some issues in you so that when He blesses you, you'll understand it's Him instead of you. So, with that, look at Nehemiah. He's our model. So, he's holy ambition, right?
Remember? He had it made in the shade. He's cupbearer to the king. And we've gone through three chapters to learn about his dislocated heart. We've learned that then he had this intense prayer time of looking up, looking in, looking out. He took the radical step of faith.
He risked his life. He finds his personal commitment. He says, I'm supposed to rebuild the wall and gather the people, cast the vision. He's got the gift of leadership. And then he makes this personal commitment, develops out of the strategic plan.
And then you would think, right, things are going to go great. This is a great man of God. All of history, literally, the entire history of Israel is completely changed by this man. Now, what happens—I'm going to give you an overview of the next three chapters. In chapter three, there's external opposition.
It's very frontal. It's in his face. The goal is to discourage him.
And the means is ridicule or fear, and we're going to look at this one very carefully. In chapter five, we won't get to this one, but I want to give you an overview, because as some of you launch out, you're going to find yourself back in Nehemiah a lot reading this over and realizing you're not crazy. This is God's will, but it is hard. In chapter five, the opposition isn't out there.
It's internal. And all of a sudden, you find that they're fighting among themselves. The goal of the enemy is to divide, and the way he does it is by selfishness and greed within the family of God here. Then in chapter six, it goes from this corporate opposition to individual.
It's very, very subtle. They attempt to destroy him. There's literally a contract out on his life, and people he thought he could trust, a priest and a prophetess, come together and tell him, you really need to do this. And the goal was to get him into a certain place so they could assassinate him. Deception and intimidation.
Well, open your notes, and I want to dig in chapter four, because I think this issue of discouragement is so, so critical. And I've put it in the metaphor of boxing. My dad was a boxer.
He was in World War II, and because of that, when he came back, he went at 16. He came back, he couldn't play any sports, and he really liked sports, so he learned to box. I guess you can brag on your dad when he's dead, but he's in Heaven right now, but he won the Golden Gloves. So, when I was little, he would kind of, no, no, no, Chip, no, no, no, keep it in here. So, he taught me how to box.
And I don't know if that ever got any good, but I learned the terminology. And the metaphor of opposition here I want to give you in boxing. We're going to look at the enemy's first punch to thwart God's program in our lives, and it's the jab of ridicule and criticism. When Sam Balot heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, what are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore the wall?
You can hear the sarcasm in his voice. Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring stones back to life from those heaps of rubble, burned as they are? Tobiah, another one of the bad guys, the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, what are they building?
If even a fox climbed on it, he would break down the wall of their stones. And then Nehemiah, you're going to find in just a minute, is going to respond, and he's going to respond the way that we need to respond. But I want you to see here, ridicule and criticism.
Notice the aim is at their worth. It's sarcasm. We need taking the step of faith. God can't use someone like you. It's casting doubt. God has shown you. You start to take a step, and all of a sudden you feel like, wow, maybe this isn't such a good idea. Maybe I don't measure up. This probably really won't work. It probably takes someone a lot smarter than me, or maybe I should do it next year, all that kind of stuff.
This can paralyze you. I was a high school teacher, and it was Grafton High School, and this is in West Virginia. And I was a junior varsity coach, and I knew the varsity coach, and it was my very first year, very first job.
And so, I was a pretty zealous Christian. And I found myself walking into the teacher's lounge one day, and it sort of cleared out just before the bell rang, and there were three guys, all fairly young teachers, one middle-aged guy. And they were making, all I can call it is extraordinarily lewd comments about a very attractive co-ed that was like a 17-year-old girl in the school. But I walked in, and I'm hearing this conversation and going, man, this is wrong. And so, you know, I'm listening just a little bit, and it was very lewd, and just like, and I said, excuse me, guys, that's very unprofessional. And they kind of looked at me like, young, new teacher, who in the heck do you think you are? And then, you know, I kind of got on a roll, so I said, guys, that is so disrespectful. Let me ask you, how would you like someone talking about your daughter that way? Those sexual innuendos, those kind of comments.
There's no place for that in us as teachers. And the bell rang, and I kind of got rescued, and it was kind of great, you know. You know, and I thought, well, you know, I stood up for the Lord, and then I'll never forget. Next day, I come in the teacher's lounge, and oh, here comes the preacher. And I mean, people, then a conversation would start, oh, let's not talk about that, chips in the room.
We all have to be very careful. And I mean, it was just piled on, ridicule, ridicule, sarcasm, ridicule. So guess what? I had a solution to that. I stopped going to the teacher's lounge. I got intimidated. I got my feelings hurt. I felt like I didn't measure up. I started doubting. Maybe I shouldn't have said something, but in my mind, I'm thinking, that's the right thing to do. That was the right—but then how come I feel so bad? And I felt like a chump. And then I found myself a prisoner.
I would get, you know, like the teacher's lounge is where the good coffee was. You know, so what do you do? And I remember just coming to grips with, you know, are you going to allow labels, and names, and ridicule, and sarcasm to define you or God? Jot down a verse, Proverbs 29, 25. The fear of man is a snare, but blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. At some point in time in your life, you need to figure out who you want to be afraid of. You can fear people and their opinions, or fear God, but you can't fear both.
And one will free you, and the other will imprison you. So Nehemiah, how did he respond? He says, hear us, O God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in the land of captivity. Do not cover their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart." He prayed. Jot that down. He prayed. He gets ridiculed. He's struggling. He prayed.
We've been talking about that. He comes before God, and he says, God, this is what they're doing. He didn't talk back to them. He didn't, you know, exchange words.
Oh, we're going to build this. He didn't defend himself. He prayed, and then notice he persisted. He didn't let him sidetrack. Did you notice that little phrase?
Half of the wall is built. I was reading, actually, this morning. It's a little book I read.
It's a devotional on prayer called Magnificent Prayer by Nick Harrison, and it tells the story of a man named Praying Hyde. He was a Presbyterian missionary to the Punjab people in India, and a fellow. He was a ship captain who was a Christian, and he was coming to Punjab, and they were having a big conference, and they asked him to speak. And so, he comes to this conference, and he comes, and they have a little tea.
I guess they had tea in those days. And then he says, I was taken up to a cup of tea with the delegates and with others, and I was introduced across the table to Mr. Hyde. He was a missionary there, and he was a missionary, if you know his life story, who went there and was not very successful, and decided that he was going to make prayer the priority of his mission. And he began to intercede. They tell stories now.
I think this is a real calling. Sometimes he'd pray for like 40 hours in a row, and then all of a sudden, this revival began to break out among the Punjab people here in India. And so, the captain comes, and he has tea, and as he walks out from the tea, as the story is told, this man, they called him Praying Hyde. He reaches out his hand, and he says, I want to see you. He says, I shall wait for you at the door. And there he was after tea waiting, and his first words were, come with me to the prayer room.
I want you to be there. I do not know whether- here's the captain speaking- I do not know whether it was a command or request. I felt I had to go. I told him that I'd traveled all night, that I was tired, and had to speak at 4 o'clock, but I went with him anyway. We found a half a dozen persons there, and Hyde went down on his face before God. I knelt down, and a strange feeling crept over me. Several prayed, and then Hyde began, and I remember very little more. All I knew, I was in the presence of God Himself, and I had no desire to leave that place.
In fact, I don't think that I thought of myself or of my surroundings at all, for I entered into a new world, and I wanted to remain there. There is an incredible, incredible power as you learn to come before God and deal with things at a significant level and pray. And I will tell you, whether it's in Korea, or whether it's in the revivals in America, or whether you meet people where God is doing something, there's some people that spend a lot of hours watching a little box that forms their thinking. And there's other people that spend a lot of time on their knees or on their face that shapes their character and their view of God. And amazing, supernatural things are very normal with God, but He always wants to start with us, and prayer is one of those avenues of grace.
It's not that big ought to, have to. It's the actual privilege of keeping company with God in His presence, being transformed by Him, claiming promises about what you're dealing with, and then standing on those promises and watching the Spirit of God take the Word of God and change people's hearts and circumstances. That's how God has always worked, and here we see it with Nehemiah. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Grow a Courageous Soul. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching from his series, Holy Ambition, Turning God-Shaped Dreams into Reality.
Do you long for your life to make a difference? Is God stirring something in your soul, but you don't know how to get started? Well, through this series, Chip explains how those deep-seated convictions and promptings can become God-shaped realities. Stay with us as Chip lays out a six-step process for ordinary people, like you and me, to follow God's calling and impact our world in unbelievable ways. For more information about Holy Ambition or our series resources, go to livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or livingontheedge.org.
App listeners, tap Special Offers. Well, I'm joined now by our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram. And Chip, in this program, you emphasized our call to be courageous, not just in the pursuit of our holy ambition, but as believers in our everyday walks, too. You know, it's safe to say our society would look completely different if followers of Christ lived more authentically. Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world where Christians really live like Christians?
I mean, when you meet a Christian, they would actually be a person of integrity and live the holy life, not perfect, but holy and loved and cared about people, I mean, a whole world like that. Well, let me back off. Well, how about just your community? No, not even your community. How about just everybody in your church?
No, no, no, no. How about just you and your family and a handful of friends, and you really followed Christ with all your heart, and even with your struggles and ups and downs, your authentic life? Can you imagine the impact in your home, your neighborhood, your work, I mean, the entire network of just you, your family, and a handful of friends? Well, 20 years ago, God put something on my heart to call and to equip Christians to actually live like Christians. And you know, it started as something really small, and then it's grown like crazy. And you know what?
It can start really small with you and then grow like crazy as well. So if Living on the Edge has had an impact in your life, if it's blessed you, if it's helped you, or it's helped someone else, I'm asking you, would you partner with us financially? Would you get on the team and help Christians live like Christians here and all around the world? Thanks, Chip. Well, if partnering with Living on the Edge is an idea that makes sense to you, we'd love to have you join us.
Helping Christians live like Christians will change the world we live in. Now to give a gift, call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003. Or if you prefer to give online, go to livingontheedge.org. That's livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap donate.
We appreciate your generosity. Well, with that, Chip, let's get to your application for this message. As you listen to today's program, what went through your mind? Are you like me? Did you listen to the program today and just have that little light go on and say to yourself, oh, yeah, I forgot I'm doing life in a fallen world. I'm walking with God, but there's opposition. Isn't it amazing how we forget that? Isn't it amazing that we somehow fall into that myth that when you obey God, when you take steps of faith, when you're loving your mate and raising your kids right and put your finances in order that unconsciously, just unconsciously, we think, well, life's going to turn out great.
And we looked at that first punch, you know, that jab of ridicule. And I want to ask you, where are you getting that? Are you getting it at home?
Are you getting it at the office? Are you a student and getting it from people because you carry your Bible or you share your faith? You know something? God knows the score. God loves you. Remember, the fear of man is a snare, but blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
Let's agree together today to live for an audience of one. That jab of ridicule, that making fun of you, that little look that you get because you're doing life God's way. Let's draw back and say, you know, the Lord is smiling and He loves you. And I just want to encourage you today. I want to encourage you to pray and persist like Nehemiah. Don't give up, don't give in, ask God to make a way.
And please don't quit because, quote, someone out there is making fun of you in some way. There's too much at stake. Keep pressing ahead. Just before we close, would you pray for those who are responding to Chip's encouragement today?
You know, there's always a spiritual battle when we feel prompted to draw near and obey God. We're taking a minute to do that. And if there's a way we can pray for you, let us know. Call us at 888-333-6003 or email chip at livingontheedge.org. We'd love to hear from you. Well until next time, for everyone here, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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